URBANDALE, Ia. – The actual match was just a warm-up for Urbandale.
Hosting Marshalltown on opening night for boys’ soccer across the state, the J-Hawks used four confident kicks and two saves in the shootout to put a positive spin on 100 minutes of scoreless action.
After a short eight days of practice to prepare for a whirlwind seven-week regular season, Urbandale will gladly take the 1-0 victory on penalty kicks.
“We had hoped to go out and accomplish more earlier,” Urbandale coach Kepler Johnson said. “But it sets the tone for us. We’ll tough it out, we’ll do what it takes.”
Urbandale senior goalkeeper Jerry Richards stopped Marshalltown’s first two penalty-kick attempts to set up teammate Elijah Conrey’s easy game-winner on a 4-1 margin.
Those definitive strikes were missing for the first hour at Frerichs Field, as the CIML sides struggled to put any shots on goal. The J-Hawks (1-0) pushed for a late winner through midfielder Armin Vlahovljak’s head and powerful right leg, but Marshalltown stayed compact on the wide turf.
“The attitude we showed, the aggressiveness, and ability to stay organized all the way into overtime was what I like to see to start the season, even though we didn’t get the result,” Marshalltown coach Chris Fuchsen said.
Junior Johnathan Cantu was making his first start in goal for the Bobcats and dealt with Urbandale’s strong aerial attack between the 70th and 90th minutes.
“We didn’t create a whole lot of opportunities and Urbandale had those late chances, but it was definitely a character-building time for us and that’s what I’m most impressed with,” Fuchsen said.
The direct play wasn’t too much until there were direct shots flying into his net from the penalty spot.
Cantu had no chance to duplicate Richards’ low saves, and the Bobcats (0-1) now have to search for a goal against top-10 opponents the next two weeks.
“We practice PKs as the last thing before every game,” Johnson said. “The last thing we did last night was that exact drill.”
Urbandale plays its next three games on the road, starting at Cedar Rapids Jefferson on Saturday.
Marshalltown…0 0 0 0—0
Urbandale…0 0 0 0—1
Shootout—Urbandale 4 (Vlahovljak, Besic, Miller, Conrey), Marshalltown 1 (E. Buckwald).