133-67-13 (.654) record since 2001
PELLA-The Central College men’s soccer team, propelled by two first-half goals from forward Aleksandar Glavas (junior, Loves Park, Ill., Guilford HS), outlasted Grinnell College 2-1 in its home opener on Tuesday.
The Dutch (1-1) were fast out of the gate, pressuring early and often. In the 18th minute, midfielder Dillon Thornbury (senior, Memphis, Tenn., Collierville HS) played a through ball to Glavas, who controlled the ball near the top of the Pioneers’ box and chipped it over the goalkeeper’s head for an early lead.
Less than five minutes later, Glavas was at it again, redirecting a pass from midfielder Mark Hentschel (junior, West Des Moines, Dowling Catholic HS) and evading the goalkeeper before striking it into an open net for a 2-0 lead.
“The two goals were brilliant,” coach Garry Laidlaw said. “Glavas is playing really well. What Glavas does really well is he uses his body. He knows when to use it, when to shield, when to dribble and when to change pace. He did those things effectively tonight. All the forwards worked hard.”
Glavas has three goals in just two games.
With a 2-0 lead, it looked like the Dutch were in control, but a foul in the Central box resulted in a penalty kick for Grinnell in the 24th minute. The Pioneers’ forward converted and the lead was cut to one.
“What happened there was we went up 2-0 and people say 2-0 is a dangerous lead,” said Laidlaw. “I think that is exactly what happened. Our thought at that point was ’we are going to get more, it is going to get easy’ and Grinnell punished us for that. They turned around when we were most vulnerable and they scored. We need to learn from that. We cannot relax when we go up a second goal because a good team is going to come back.”
Despite numerous runs on goal, neither team was able to muster another score in the first period.
The Pioneers (0-2) led in shots (6-4) and corner kicks (2-1) at halftime, but the Dutch led in shots on goal (3-1) and on the scoreboard.The second period was more reserved, as Central focused on preserving its slim lead.
“We defended well in the second half,” Laidlaw said. “We asked some guys to play important defensive roles. They are not always glamorous roles, but our guys did the dirty work and it paid off.”
Grinnell attempted four second-period shots and forced goalkeeper Tim Maggard (senior, Los Angeles, Calif., South Torrance HS) to make a save, but was unable to crack the Dutch defense. Despite only one shot attempt in the second frame, Central held on for the win.
“It was a hard-fought game,” said Laidlaw. “Grinnell has an excellent team this year, so credit to them on a great game. Tim was excellent in goal today. We have some really good goalies and that breeds confidence throughout the team. He made some brave interceptions and punches to keep us in control.”
Although Laidlaw was happy with the win, he knows there is still room for improvement.
“We still need to get a lot better,” Laidlaw said. “It is clear that it is early in the season. Possession and passing are not where they need to be. We’re not creating enough, we’re not connecting enough and we’re not getting enough shots on goal. There are so many things that can and need to get better and we are going to spend time working on them. But being two games in, we will take the win.”
The Dutch return to the pitch this weekend for a pair of games in Illinois. Central visits Millikin University (Ill.) on Saturday at 4 p.m. in Decatur, Ill. before closing out the trip at Illinois Wesleyan in Bloomington, Ill. on Sunday.