Tucker Stephenson scored his first Menace goal. Photo credit: Joe Sprunger
WEST DES MOINES, Iowa – Saturday, June 17, 2017 – In tonight’s halftime locker-room talk, Des Moines Menace head coach John Pascarella told his team to do two things:
1. Make the defense more compact and don’t let Thunder Bay get through us.
And 2. Stop attacking centrally; Start attacking to the side because their center-midfielders are stopping us every time.
The Menace did both in the second half of a 1-0 Premier Development League win. And, like the previous four times the Menace has hosted the Chill at Valley Stadium, the home team left the field atop the Heartland Division standings.
Tucker Stephenson took his coach’s words to heart.
In the 56th minute, he scored with a curling shot from the corner of the 18-yard box. Only two minutes early, Stephenson was assessed a yellow card in retaliation after receiving a rough tackle.
“The goal came at the perfect moment. Hayden (Partain) took the ball up the center and gave it to me on the right side,” Stephenson said. “I took the first touch and shot it to the back of the net.”
The victory extends the Menace’s home regular-season unbeaten streak to 24.
It also cements the Menace’s fourth straight season-series win against its arch-nemesis. The teams split a doubleheader in Ontario last weekend, with the Menace (5-2-1) winning 1-0 on June 9 and the Chill (3-2-1) finding 2-0 payback the next night.
This was the Menace’s fifth match in nine days. After sweeping WSA Winnipeg on Tuesday and Wednesday, the team came home in first place.
Along the way, the division’s three-time defending champs have galvanized.
“The fact that they’re willing to apply what we’re saying to them is great,” Pascarella said. “It’s building trust, and they’re learning to rely on us and each other.”
“Our group morale is high, and the coaches have a big part in that,” Stephenson said. “We’ve really come together as a group.”
- FC Barcelona’s Ivan Rakitic made an anticipated appearance at the match.
- This was the 60th meeting in a series the Menace leads 30-25-5.
- Each of the previous 10 seasons has ended with the Menace or the Chill in first place in the Heartland Division.
- The Menace’s last regular-season home loss was July 13, 2013 (2-1 to Real Colorado).
- The Chill's last road wins against the Menace came June 14-15, 2013 (2-0 and 2-0).
MAN of the MATCH: Tucker Stephenson, for his go-ahead goal in the 56th minute. Stephenson is an Overland Park, Kan., native who attends Loyola-Chicago.
UP NEXT: The Menace wraps up its road schedule on Tuesday in Evanston, Ill., facing PDL newcomer Chicago FC United. The teams rematch next Saturday at Valley Stadium.
Match: Thunder Bay Chill at Des Moines Menace
Date: Saturday, June 17, 2017
Competition: Premier Development League regular season
Venue: Valley Stadium (artificial turf) in West Des Moines, Iowa
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. CDT
Weather: 80s, cloudy skies with rain
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
MENACE 0 1 1
TB 0 0 0
MENACE – Tucker Stephenson (Hayden Partain) 56:00
Misconduct Summary: MENACE cautions: Joe Kay 50:00; Tucker Stephenson 53:00; TB cautions: Eduardo Sanchez 59:00; Christopher Makengo 67:00
ABOUT THE MENACE: The Des Moines Menace provides the highest level of soccer in Iowa. In its 24th season, the Menace men’s team competes in the Premier Development League (PDL). In its sixth season, the Menace women’s team is part of the Women’s Premier Soccer League (WPSL). With loyal support, the Menace men’s and women’s teams play their home games at the Valley Stadium in West Des Moines to provide family-fun entertainment. The Menace organization provides the growth of the game of soccer in Iowa with their youth soccer programs, including Junior Menace (ages 3-9), Menace Youth Academy (ages six and older), and tournaments, camps and clinics.