By SCOTT JACKSON Courier sports writer
---- — OTTUMWA — Sometimes a game comes down to a moment.
Who can capitalize on that moment?
The answer to that question usually answers the question of who will win and who will lose?
On Tuesday night, Charlie Altfillisch and Arny Perez stood at opposite ends of moments that were mirror images of each other. For one of the Ottumwa boys soccer players, the ball was at his feet with the momentum of the game essentially in his hands.
Altfillisch didn’t let the moment slip away. The Bulldog senior ripped home a penalty kick less than five minutes before halftime for the first goal of the game to give Ottumwa a huge boost heading into the second half.
“We played well throughout that entire first half and it was nice to finally get some momentum going into halftime,” Altfillisch said. “To finally put one into the back of the net was huge for us.”
“That’s one of those things where you either come up short and the momentum goes against you or you get a goal and momentum goes on your side,” Ottumwa head boys soccer coach Aaron Rose said.
Perez kept that momentum in the Bulldogs control, stepping up when his moment was called upon. The Ottumwa goalie stopped Fairfield’s chance to answer Altfillisch’s penalty shot midway through the second half before Ismar Argueta put away the Bulldog boys second win in as many nights at Eric Wertheim Field with a 2-0 shutout victory over the Trojans Tuesday night, just 24 hours after earning a 3-2 double-overtime win over Centerville on Monday.
“We played a really good first half, but the intensity was even better for us in the second half,” Rose said. “There’s nothing better then getting back-to-back wins, especially in front of your home crowd.”
Argueta ended up having a hand in both of Ottumwa’s goals against Fairfield. The sophomore not only scored the clincher off a pass from Osvaldo Trejo in the 69th minute, he also drew the foul in the 35th minute that allowed Altfillisch to break the scoreless tie.
“Charlie’s one of our best penalty takers. We have a lot of faith in his ability to take those,” Rose said. “Ismar did a great job drawing it, but we definitely had a lot of faith in Charlie to put it in the back of the net.”
Prior to the penalty kick, Ottumwa had failed to cash in on several chances with the Bulldogs coming up with several opportunities. The Bulldogs finished the night with a 23-8 edge in shots on the Trojans, more than putting senior goaltender Spencer Peterman to the test.
Peterman was more than up to the challenge, stopping 21 shots while keeping the game scoreless as the game wound toward the conclusion of the first half. Finally, with an opportunity by Argueta being stymied by a foul, Altfillisch was ready to finally put the Bulldogs in front.
“It was a little frustrating. We’d been playing so well and we just couldn’t seem to get the ball in the net,” Altfillisch said. “To finally see it pay off and play that well to redeem ourselves for a full 80 minutes was really gratifying.”
One night after losing a 2-0 lead in the second half before having to pull out a victory over Centerville in the second overtime session, Ottumwa was once again tested to hold onto its regulation lead by Fairfield. This time, the Trojans worked their way into a penalty kick with Roan Bacher facing Perez and the potential of another lost Bulldog lead hanging in the balance.
Instead, Perez came up with a huge stop that may have done even more to boost Ottumwa’s momentum then Altfillisch’s successful penalty kick earlier in the game.
“We’ve been working on penalties over and over and Arny stepped up to make a fantastic save. That work he’s put in only goes so much further in that situation,” Rose said. “To get the penalty kick to go in for us is one thing, but to get the save on the other end is another huge impact play in our favor.”
“Arny made a heck of a save. We rode that momentum through the rest of the game for sure,” Altfillisch added.
The victory lifts Ottumwa to three wins in a row heading into its third-straight home game of the week on Thursday. The Bulldogs will get their toughest test of the week, and the season, when 11th-ranked (3A) West Des Moines Valley comes to Ottumwa on Thursday night.
“Whenever we needed a goal or whenever we needed to kick up the intensity in these last 48 hours, the team definitely found a way,” Rose said. “I hope we have what it takes to carry us through into Thursday night.”
Fairfield (3-4) heads to Keokuk on Thursday.
Ottumwa 2, Fairfield 0
Fairfield(3-3) 0 0 — 0
Ottumwa (2-1) 1 1 — 2
Ottumwa — Charlie Altfillisch goal (penalty kick), 35:00.
Ottumwa — Ismar Argueta goal (Osvaldo Trejo assist), 69:00.
Fairfield: Total Shots — 8 (Roan Bacher 3). Total Saves — 21 (Spencer Peterman 21).
Ottumwa: Total Shots — 23 (Grieg Duo 6). Total Saves — 2 (Arny Perez 2).