WEST DES MOINES, Iowa – Saturday, July 9, 2016 – Salvation arrived in the 90th minute tonight for the Des Moines Menace. It came in the form of a spectacular Tommy Barlow goal that has kept the Premier Development League team in contention for a three-peat as Heartland Division champion.
Down 1-0 to arch-rival Thunder Bay, Des Moines needed late heroics to stay in the driver’s seat for the division crown. The playoff-bound Menace (9-2-2, 29 points) can clinch the title with a home victory in next Saturday’s season finale against St. Louis.
“It feels good,” Barlow said. “It’s like a new breath going into next week, to still be in the running for the division.”
In the final minute of regulation, Barlow was in the right place at the right time. Following a pinball sequence, he found himself with a step on his defender, and he was able to smash home a goal that electrified the crowd.
“It was bouncing around in the box, and it fell right at my feet,” Barlow said. “So I took a shot, and I think it took a bounce and went right through the ‘keepers’ legs.”
The Menace finally got one past Chill goalkeeper Daniel Milton, and the result preserves the team’s three-year-long home unbeaten streak – 21 matches and counting.
Things were looking grim for the Menace until the late equalizer. Thunder Bay appeared on the cusp of a victory that would’ve put Des Moines’ three-peat dreams in jeopardy.
Six minutes after entering the match in the 71st minute, the Chill’s Daniel Farias beat Menace goalie Nico Campbell to his right.
The visitors had a chance to go back up in the closing minutes of stoppage time, when 2012 PDL MVP Sullivan Silva stepped up for a free kick from just outside the 18-yard box. Mercifully for the Menace, the former pro’s shot attempt sailed barely over the cross-bar.
Thunder Bay (7-2-3, 24 points) hopes to join the Menace in the PDL Playoffs. To earn the division’s second and final postseason spot, the Chill knows it needs a win or a pair of ties. Just behind Chicago (8-4-2, 26 points), Thunder Bay hosts St. Louis on Tuesday and Kokomo on Wednesday to close the regular season.
The Chill is on an eight-match unbeaten streak since the Menace swept a June 10-11 doubleheader in Canada. Thunder Bay is headed home after a five-game tour of the United States, with fruitful stops in St. Louis, Kokomo and Chicago before swinging through Iowa.
Though the Menace is still seeking its first season sweep of the Chill since 2006, Des Moines has taken the season series from its arch-rival each of the last three years.
This is the 10th straight season that the Heartland Division crown will go to either the Menace or the Chill.
Entering this rivalry night, the Menace had won six of the teams’ last seven meetings
The Menace has a 23-2 scoring advantage in the second half of PDL matches. Before Daniel Farias’s goal, the Menace had gone 547 minutes of post-halftime action without conceding a goal.
In the PDL’s longest-standing rivalry, Des Moines has a 28-24-5 all-time advantage – 16-8-2 at home.
Des Moines head coach Mike Matkovich is two wins away from his 100th career PDL regular-season victory.
MAN of the MATCH: Tommy Barlow for his clutch goal. Barlow, a St. Louis native and Wisconsin Badger, celebrated his 21st birthday yesterday. His six goals are second on the team to Leigh Veidman’s nine.
UP NEXT: Des Moines closes its schedule at home next weekend, hosting Toledo for a Fireworks Friday exhibition on July 15 and hosting St. Louis the next night.
Match: Thunder Bay Chill at Des Moines Menace
Date: Saturday, July 9, 2016
Competition: Premier Development League regular season
Venue: Valley Stadium (turf) in West Des Moines, Iowa
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. CDT
Weather: 80s, sunny
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
MENACE 0 1 1
TB 0 1 1
MENACE: Tommy Barlow 90:00
TB: Daniel Farias 77:00
MENACE CAUTION: Elvir Ibisevic 50:00; Nick Jones 90:00+
MENACE / TB
Shots: 7 / 12
Saves: 9 / 7
Corner Kicks: 5 / 5
Fouls: 14 / 8
Offside: 3 / 2