133-67-13 (.654) record since 2001
PELLA — Midfielder Serge Sievertson (sophomore, Wilmette, Ill., New Trier Township HS) erupted for three goals as the Central College bench fueled a convincing 6-0 triumph over Coe College that clinched the squad’s 11th consecutive Iowa Conference men’s soccer tourney berth.
The win improved the Dutch to 7-9-2 overall and 3-4 in league play. They had entered the day tied with Coe (5-12-1 overall, 2-5 conference) in the standings but are now assured a spot in the six-team tourney. Final seedings and pairings have not yet been determined but the Dutch will likely be on the road for a first-round game Friday or Saturday. The tournament has no bearing on the conference standings but determines the league’s automatic qualifier for the NCAA Division III tournament.
Sievertson was part of a first-half scoring flurry that put the Dutch in command with three goals in just over 5 minutes. Midfielder Brandon Bautista (senior, St. Charles, Ill., North HS) got Central on the board with his sixth goal in the 31st minute. Sievertson followed 2 minutes later with an assist from midfielder Daniel Peacock (junior, Ankeny) and forward Ralph Palmeri (senior, St. Charles, Ill., Marmion Academy) recorded his third goal in the 36th minute.
The outburst broke open what coach Garry Laidlaw had expected to be a tight match.
“When you’ve struggled like we have in finishing, we certainly weren’t overconfident,” he said. “But we gained confidence after the first goal and that grew as the game went on.”
Forward Jordan Appenzeller (senior, Boone) added his third goal in the 54th minute on a pass from defender Jeremy Dolder (freshman, Iowa City, West HS) and Sievertson finished his hat trick with goals in the 85th and 89th minutes on assists from defender Zach Jensen (senior, Johnston) and midfielder Chris Poesch (sophomore, Waverly, Waverly-Shell Rock HS). Sievertson has six goals for the year.
Four of Central’s six goals and two of the assists came from non-starters.
“What most impressed me today was that we got some outstanding performances off the bench,” Laidlaw said. “Ralph Palmeri, Dillon Thornbury (junior, Memphis, Tenn., Collierville HS), Serge Sievertson—they changed the game when they came in. And many of the other guys who came off the bench did a tremendous job and really helped lift us.”
The Dutch are increasingly relying on their top reserves.
“The last two or three weeks, we’ve been using more and more of our depth,” Laidlaw said. “We’ll continue to do that.”
Central held a 15-9 shot edge, with a decisive 11-3 advantage in shots on goal. Goalkeeper Travis Yets (junior, Bettendorf) made three saves in notching his second shutout.
“Coe is a well-coached, well-organized team,” Laidlaw said. “But I have to say this was a very impressive showing by our guys today.”
The Dutch don’t know where the tourney road begins, but Laidlaw likes the direction they’re headed.
“We’re not concerned with (the pairing) right now,” he said. “We’re going to enjoy the performance and the victory and then the season starts all over again tomorrow.
“It’s been a bit of a roller coaster year, but I still believe that our strength of schedule has prepared us well for this time of year.”