This 2-0 loss in the Central Conference final finishes the season for Luca Puster (heading), Brandon Fricke (5), Elvir Ibisevic (background) and the 2017 Menace. Photo credit: Joe Sprunger
PONTIAC, Mich. – Saturday, July 22, 2017 – The highest of highs, and the lowest of lows, all in one weekend.
After a 2-0 win over reigning Premier Development League champion Michigan last night, the Des Moines Menace’s season abruptly ended with a 2-0 loss to the Thunder Bay Chill in the Central Conference final tonight inside Ultimate Soccer Arenas.
With goals from Mitchell Osmund and Chris Makengo, the Heartland Division champions put the Menace in a 2-0 deficit in the first half, and Des Moines couldn’t seem to find the chances it needed to put the ball in the back of the net.
“Thunder Bay played a fantastic game, and defensively, they shut us down,” first year Menace head coach John Pascarella said. “It wasn’t a lack of effort on our part by any means because we played hard for 90 minutes, but they were just a little better.”
This was the first postseason meeting in the PDL’s longest standing rivalry. The Menace has won the archrivals’ series each of the last four years, including a 2-1 edge this season.
But Thunder Bay got the last word when it counted. The Chill (9-3-2) froze the Menace’s hopes of a fourth straight division crown and Des Moines’ bid for a return to the PDL final four for the first time since the franchise’s 2005 championship.
Behind a brick-wall defense that allowed a league-best eight goals this season, goalkeeper David Elias earned his ninth shutout of the year. The Chill won an all-Canadian matchup against K-W United FC, 2-0, last night, starting Thunder Bay on its way to the PDL semifinals for the fourth time in the last 10 years.
A roller-coaster season comes to a close for the Menace (7-5-2). It started on a high note, hit some rough patches down the home stretch and finished strong with the organization’s 15th postseason appearance and last night’s cherished upset of the Bucks on their home turf.
After a 1-0 home win against the Chill on June 17, Des Moines sat atop the division with a 5-2-1 record. The Menace, however, went winless in the next three matches and closed by winning just two of its final six opportunities in the regular season.
A critical 3-1 home victory over the St. Louis Lions on July 8 resuscitated the team’s playoff chances, and the Menace sealed the playoff spot with a suspenseful, season-closing 2-0 home win over Chicago FC United on July 15.
“This team is full of talent,” Pascarella said. “But it’s the character that I love so much. It’s their passion of the game, their willingness to trust me, to connect with me, that has made it so enjoyable.”
- In the PDL’s longest standing rivalry, the Menace leads 30-26-5 in a series that began in 2000.
- The last 11 seasons have ended with Des Moines or Thunder Bay as the PDL Heartland Division champion (with the Menace’s titles during this span coming in 2009 and 2014-2016).
- The Menace is 16-16 in 15 PDL Playoff appearances.
- The Chill has made 10 postseason trips, winning the title in 2008 and finishing second in 2010 and 2013.
- Des Moines’ five most recent postseason runs ended against the Michigan Bucks (2011, 2014, 2016) or on the Bucks’ home turf (2015 against K-W United FC, 2017 against Thunder Bay).
- This was the Menace’s fourth straight playoff appearance; the previous three ended with losses to the eventual champions (Michigan in 2014 and 2016 and K-W in 2015).
- Four of the Menace’s last five playoff matches have ended with a 2-0 score; the exception was Des Moines’ 5-1 win over K-W here a year ago.
- For the third straight year, the Bucks hosted the Menace, the Chill and K-W for the Central Conference’s championship weekend. These teams have combined for 49 playoff appearances, led by Michigan’s 20.
MAN of the MATCH: Club caption Brandon Fricke, for his steady leadership and solid defense for 90 minutes tonight. Fricke is a Butler grad and has been a Menace for six seasons (2010-2014, 2017).
Fricke, a Grimes native, was one of six Iowans who saw action tonight for the Menace. Also in this group were starter Heath Honold (Coon Rapids) and subs Mueng Sunday (Coralville), Elvir Ibisevic (Johnston), Addison Parrish (Cumming) and Gabe Christianson (Cedar Rapids).
Match: Des Moines Menace vs. Thunder Bay
Date: Saturday, July 22, 2017
Competition: Premier Development League Central Conference Championship
Venue: Ultimate Soccer Arenas (indoor, artificial turf) in Pontiac, Mich.
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. EDT
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
MENACE 0 0 0
CHILL 2 0 2
CHILL – Mitchell Osmond (Abraham Villon) 8:00; Chris Makengo 44:00
FINAL RESULTS, 2017 DES MOINES MENACE
(7-5-2 PDL regular season: 4-3-0 home; 3-2-2 away)
Wednesday, May 10 AFC Cleveland (OC) L, 1-3
Saturday, May 20 WSA Winnipeg W, 2-0
Saturday, May 27 at St. Louis Lions L, 0-1
Sunday, May 28 at Saint Louis FC U23 T, 1-1
Saturday, June 3 Minneapolis City SC (E) W, 3-0
Friday, June 9 at Thunder Bay Chill W, 1-0
Saturday, June 10 at Thunder Bay Chill L, 0-2
Tuesday, June 13 at WSA Winnipeg W, 3-1
Wednesday, June 14 at WSA Winnipeg W, 3-0
Saturday, June 17 Thunder Bay Chill W, 1-0
Tuesday, June 20 at Chicago FC United T, 1-1
Saturday, June 24 Chicago FC United L, 0-1
Saturday, July 1 Saint Louis FC U23 L, 1-2
Friday, July 7 Sporting KC U23 (E) L, 2-3
Saturday, July 8 St. Louis Lions W, 3-1
Friday, July 14 Saint Louis FC U23 L, 1-2
Saturday, July 15 Chicago FC United W, 2-0
Friday, July 21 at Michigan Bucks (P) W, 2-0
Saturday, July 22 Thunder Bay Chill (P) L, 0-2
P = Premier Development League playoffs OC = Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup E = Exhibition
ABOUT THE MENACE: The Des Moines Menace provides the highest level of soccer in Iowa. Planning for its 25th season, Menace men’s team competes in the Premier Development League (PDL). 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.