A 1-0 lead at half ballooned into a 4-1 win for Des Moines Menace on Saturday, marking their third victory over St. Croix SC on the campaign.
Eliot Goldthorp, Brandon Bermingham, and Leroy Enzugusi all found the back of the net in the second-to-last match of the regular season.
In a typical display this season, Menace started brightly in attack but were without a finishing edge inside the first twenty minutes.
Des Moines did find a remedy through Irish striker Brandon Bermingham in the 25th minute.
Bermingham scored his fifth goal in as many matches with some style, slicing to his right from the left side of the box before drilling a shot into the top right corner.
Bermingham, a native of Drogheda, Ireland, took the outright lead in goalscoring with the match opener, but another player would go on to level his scoring record.
No more goals came in the first half, however, despite a pair of counterattacking chances for St. Croix and more balls forward from Menace.
SECOND HALF (Menace 1 - 0 St. Croix at half)
The Menace faithful at Valley Stadium could hardly have dreamed up a better start to the second 45, as a goal was banged in before a single minute had gone by.
Goldthorp used a high work rate to win the ball off of Ethan Anderson and did the rest himself, carrying the ball from the right side of goal into the box and putting the 1v1 chance away.
The central midfielder appeared at striker for the first time on the year, coming into the match with three goals on the year.
He wasn't done on the evening, though, grabbing a brace 12 minutes later. His 57th-minute strike from 25 yards away found the back of the net by virtue of pure power, beating goalkeeper Jack Morris.
From there, both teams settled down with the result seemingly done and dusted.
In the 77th minute, though, youth product Asher Ozuzu pounced on a bad error at the back from Menace, using one of his first touches off the bench to rocket a shot off the crossbar and in.
The goal lifted St. Croix's spirits, but it couldn't lift them to any more goals. Instead, it would be Menace to find a final goal to bookend the contest.
An 89th-minute strike from close range found the back of the net off the foot of Enzugusi, a Kenya-born midfielder who grew up in Marion, Iowa.
Enzugusi created chances galore in his ten minutes on the pitch, and until his late strike, it looked like he wouldn't be rewarded for his efforts. In the end, the Drake University product and former MLS SuperDraft pick got his third goal of the year.
"We were a little disappointed with the goal. Obviously, we wanted the clean sheet, but I do think we dominated the game.
"The new boys came in and [did] the job we asked them to. Leroy [Enzugusi] is always going to be a threat with his pace, and we're glad he got his goal."
"We're happy overall and ready to move on to next week."
quotes from Menace head coach Dean Johnson
Starting XI (3-4-1-2): Joey Batrouni, goalkeeper; Connor Langan, Zeron Sewell, Malik Smith, defenders; Gianluca Fiorini, Luka Nedic, Kori Cupid, Neville Morgan, Ryley Kraft, midfielders; Eliot Goldthorp, Brandon Bermingham, forwards
Bermingham and Goldthorp both reached five goals on the season, leading the team in that category.
Bermingham now has a goal in each of the last five matches.
Nedic made his return to central midfield after a one-match suspension for yellow card accumulation.
Aleksandar Gluvaçevic picked up an assist in his first match of the campaign for Menace after joining mid-season from Orlando City B.
Allexon Saravia, a wing back with experience in USL Championship at Loudoun United, also made his Menace debut as a substitute.
KICKS AND GIGGLES
Menace were scheduled to play against St. Croix and Peoria City three times on the season; after winning all three against St. Croix, they can now do the same against Peoria City next week.
Des Moines are now undefeated in their last 17 matches.
Menace scored four or more goals for the fifth time this season, three of which came against St. Croix.
Menace now pivot to Peoria City in one final regular season match in 2022. They take on the Deep North Division's second-place team for the third time on the year and for the first time at home at 7 p.m. on July 16 at Valley Stadium.
The match can also be streamed live on YouTube via the Central Iowa Sports Network.