Iowa Raptors Vs Fire and Ice: Women’s Premier Soccer League
Rami Scheetz, Iowa Raptors Journalist
Raptors Women Stay Cold Against a Scorching Hot Illinois Fire & Ice S.A. Side
CEDAR RAPIDS- This past Sunday a red hot Illinois based WPSL side, Fire & Ice F.C. made their way back to John Wall field in Cedar Rapids to try and continue their club’s recent success. The Iowa Raptors were ready for this streak of blowout wins for the Fire and Ice squad to come to an end on their home side. This match day between the two was of the utmost importance in terms of league standings with the same Fire & Ice team just having traveled to defeat the Raptors in Cedar Rapids exactly a week prior. The question that was on everyone’s mind leading up to the referee’s starting whistle was this: Would history repeat itself, or would the band of Raptors sisters rise to the occasion and produce a shocking result to upset the league’s table leaders that have been effortlessly moving through the rest of the competition?
Unfortunately, the recent struggles continued for the Iowa Raptors in the third minute of the first half. A corner was cleared away to the twenty-five-yard line and with a moment of pure power and a touch of class, Fire & Ice central defensive midfielder Megan Loveland produced an absolute belter into the top corner on the half volley. A finish reminiscent of Steven Gerrard’s 2006 Liverpool campaign. Needless to say, an absolutely lovely goal by Loveland. Just thirteen minutes later, quick two-touch passes from the Fire & Ice efficiently sliced open the Raptor’s midfield, leading to an easy tap in for striker Haley Eastridge from point-blank range doubling their lead.
There was a clear strategy for the Raptor’s side in the first half that led to no avail. “Play direct, and opportunities will arise,” seemed to be the tactical thought process from head coach Curt Lewis. Unfortunately, lack of build-up play from the back line to the next level was clearly evident in Saturday’s 3-0 loss.
It was not just a day full of frantic defending from the Raptors, in fact, there were multiple clear cut opportunities to equalize in the first half. In the nineteenth minute Raptors left-wing Kenzi Rolling broke free through two defenders and found herself one-on-one with the opposing goalie. Rolling sat the keeper down turning her into a bystander, but nearly missed the far post with a cheeky chip. Chances were available in this game for the Raptors, execution was just the only thing missing in the final third. Momentum was rolling the Raptors way until the twenty-second minute, when Fire & Ice striker Kayley Judy clinically put away a simple tap in, also putting away the Raptors hopes for an important upset in only the 22nd minute. 3-0 Fire & Ice.
Choppy play from both sides kept the score at a standstill for the rest of the game, showing that if the Raptors could have weathered the barrage of offensive firepower thrown at them in the first twenty minutes of playing time, this game was still very much theirs for the taking.
The Raptors women will travel to the Quad Cities on Wednesday in hopes that a change in scenery may provide a much needed spark in the hearts of the struggling side. It is evident that the side has the talent, but do they have the tenacity to grind out tough wins against technically sound teams? The answer lies this Wednesday at 7 pm against The Quad Cities Rush at St. Vincent Athletic Complex.