PELLA— The defensive effort of the Central College men’s soccer team stole the show in a 3-0 victory over Iowa Wesleyan University Friday night.
The Dutch (1-0) toppled the Tigers (0-1) in the season-opening match for both teams.
“I thought we set the tone early,” coach Garry Laidlaw said. “We defended really well and forced them to make some mistakes.”
A youthful Dutch starting lineup featured three freshmen and four sophomores, but a veteran backline piloted the clean sheet. Senior keeper Andrew Mathys (Elburn, Ill., Kaneland HS) had four saves in the shutout victory as classmates Taylor Petkovich (Littleton, Colo., Heritage HS) and Landon Daniels (senior, Webster City) headlined the back row.
“I thought they really settled us in the back,” Laidlaw said. “Iowa Wesleyan has got some very skillful players, some dangerous players up top with some speed. I think in the course of that game, we got better as it went on defensively.”
Courtesy of a foul in the box, Daniels buried a penalty kick attempt to give Central a 1-0 lead at the 16-minute mark. Sophomore midfielder Jake Dzarnowski (Wheaton, Ill., North HS) added a second penalty kick in the 75th minute.
“We talked about just staying with it and trying to wear them down over time,” Laidlaw said. “They had a few clumsy challenges in the box because we were putting quite a bit of pressure on them. I think that’s really just a result of the buildup we were doing.”
Tony Cervelli (sophomore, forward, Plainfield, Ill., South HS) piled on a third strike off a cross from Petkovich in the 81st minute to give the game its final score.
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