142-76-14 (.642) record since 2001
PELLA—Senior forward Ralph Palmeri (St. Charles, Ill., Marmion Academy) knocked home the game-winning goal on a corner kick as the Central College men’s soccer team opened Iowa Conference play with a 1-0 decision over Luther College Saturday.
Palmeri scored in the 59th minute, with the ball rolling off Luther goalkeeper Peter Wright’s fingertips into the upper left corner of the net. It’s Palmeri’s second goal of the year.
“Ralph pulled something special out of his hat there,” coach Garry Laidlaw said. “He’s always been a great finisher and he hit the ball with great bend and swerve and dip. It wasn’t the planned corner kick but sometimes 1A isn’t a bad option. Ralph deserves a lot of credit.”
Defending league champion Luther (5-2-2 overall, 0-1 conference) outshot Central 19-12 and held an 11-7 second-half advantage. The Norse reached the top 16 of the NCAA Div. III championships last year.
“Luther’s the real deal,” Laidlaw said. “Credit their coach and the work that they put in. They’re a tough team.”
Dutch goalkeeper Travis Yets (junior, Bettendorf) had five saves and the team made three saves.
“As a coach all you can keep asking from your players is a complete team performance and sometimes you have to dig in and defend for periods of time and we did that when we had to today,” Laidlaw said.
The victory snaps a three-game losing streak where the Dutch (3-4-1 overall, 1-0 conference) faced two regionally ranked opponents.
“We’ve had a really challenging schedule and it’s hard to keep telling the players to hang in there when you’ve had some tough losses,” Laidlaw said. “I’m so happy for the players to be on the other end of one of those hard-fought and closely-contested matches, and it’s probably even more special that it happened in a league game. That’s what we’ve been working toward all year.”
The Dutch host NAIA Culver-Stockton College (Mo.) 3 p.m. Tuesday at the A.N. Kuyper Athletics Complex soccer field. The Wildcats are 5-2 after a 2-1 loss to Simpson College Thursday. It’s the first meeting between Central and Culver-Stockton.