Heading into Monday's game against Davenport Assumption, the Muscatine boys soccer team had lost two straight. Head coach Jose Varela decided to make some changes.
“Our spine on the team is pretty strong from forward all the way to defense," Varela said about the changes he implemented before Monday's game. "But we were kind of looking to balance it out a little bit more with our wings."
Clearly, it worked, as Muscatine ultimately escaped with a 2-0 victory Monday at home to improve to 3-4 on the season.
Much of the game, especially in the first half, took place around midfield where neither side could do much as far as establishing a comfortable pace. Instead, it was more of a battle for real estate through the first half.
As a result, there were sudden bursts of action in between choppy, back-and-forth play.
Up until the 42nd minute, each side had a couple of good chances at getting on the scoreboard, but none resulted in a goal. But at halftime, coach Varela made another change.
“The first half we had (Hector) Martinez in the middle and did well controlling the ball. He’s got more of a smooth style," Varela said."(In the) second half we switched him and (Raul) Medina and Medina ran the middle, (he is) more physical."
In the 23rd minute, Muscatine had a shot sail that looked like it had a chance, but it was just high enough to scrape the top crossbar and roll over the net.
The Knights' best chance at a goal - and lead - came moments after the teams came out to open the second half.
Assumption senior Nick Broggini took a shot across the goal in which Muscatine goalie Carson Borde, a senior, had to stop his momentum one way and dive back across the field in the opposite direction to make the save. Borde ended the game with six saves for the Muskies.
Soon after the shot on goal by Assumption (1-7), the Muskies found the back of the net when a cross pass from senior Hector Martinez found fellow senior Eddie Treiber in front of the Assumption goal. Treiber timed his jump perfectly, found the ball at its high point before a defender could make a play on it, and directed the ball past the Assumption goalie.
"We wanted to play wide today," Varela said. "That was one of the things (we wanted to do) and stretch their defense out a little more. I think we were pretty successful in doing that."
After the first goal, the game resumed its prior tempo, with much of the action taking place around midfield.
"We weren’t really worried about them getting a goal, that wasn’t our main concern," Treiber said, "We really cleaned things up in the back and that really helped.”
But when Muscatine gained possession in the Assumption third, the Muskies struck again. A pass from senior Alberto Guzman found junior Chris Pittman in front of the net. Pittman had to deal with some traffic, provided by the Knights' defense, but he successfully navigated through it and placed his shot where Assumption's goalie couldn't make a play on it to eal the win.
“We switched some things up with our lineup," Treiber said. "I think these new positions are really helping us out. Obviously, that showed with this win."