OTTUMWA — The Ottumwa boys soccer team was looking to break through on Tuesday night, seeking to snap an eight-match losing streak and seeking to earn the first CIML Metro conference win of the season.
There was a reason to be optimistic. Visiting Des Moines North arrived at Eric Wertheim Field without a win in conference play.
The two teams would battle deep into the second half seeking to earn that first conference win. Carlos Martinez found the decisive goal on a header with just under 11 minutes left, lifting North to a 2-1 win as Ottumwa suffered a ninth straight loss with seven straight Metro conference losses.
"It seemed to take a half to get us untracked," noted Bulldog coach Andy Maw. "We have a lot of young players, but we are gaining more confidence as they get more experience."
After very few chances for either team to score in the opening half, things started to heat up in the second half of play. With just under 32 minutes on the clock, Ottumwa goal keeper Ethan Vasconez blocked a shot on goal, which rolled back to the Polar Bears, leading to a shot off a rebound that careened off the goal back into the field of play.
With 31:35, North got a clean shot off the rebound to take a 1-0 lead. Following a save by Vasconez at the 29:51 mark, Ottumwa took possession of the ball downfield and Angel Valencia scored his team-leading fourth goal for the Bulldogs to knot the game at 1-1.
North (7-6, 1-2 CIML Metro) would proceed to miss on a loose ball in front of the goal with 20:52 before Ottumwa would take possession. Valencia narrowly missed on a shot on goal with 19:40 left in an attempt to give the home team the lead.
What would be the death blow to the Bulldogs came with 10:56 on the clock. Martinez headed in a goal to give the Polar Bears a 2-1 lead they would not relinquish. The closing minute saw two close misses by the Bulldogs on breakaways by Djessy Mfudila.
"During the second half we figured out they played a long ball through," noted Maw. "We countered by trying to get numbers up the field. Erick Valencia Alarcon did a good job of creating a lot of opportunities for our players."
Ottumwa (2-9, 0-6 CIML Metro) heads to Ames on Friday to take on the Little Cyclones (3-5) in CIML action.
"Ames should be a good competition," stated Maw.