OTTUMWA — It was rough. It was tough.
For 70 minutes, it was a match the Indian Hills men’s soccer team appeared destine to lose on their home field Saturday. Iowa Central knocked the Warriors down, had the Warriors frustrated and had a 2-0 lead with less than 20 minutes left to maintain the advantage.
After over 70 minutes of frustration, No. 19 IHCC needed less than 10 minutes to create a massive celebration. Cesar Moreno scored a goal and set up Rodrigo Rogatto for the tying goal less than five minutes later before the Tritons headed in a ball into their own net with under nine minutes left, giving the Warriors a 3-2 Iowa Community College Athletic Conference win over the Tritons.
“We just don’t give up,” Indian Hills men’s soccer head coach Juan Espinal said. “I say it all the time to our guys. We have to protect our house.
“I say it all the time. It’s the game of soccer. Some days your on. Some days your off. Unfortunately, we shot ourselves in the foot, but the good thing is that our players are not giving up. They keep fighting and fighting and fighting. That’s the biggest thing of all.”
Christian Koffi was the first player to find the back of the net, scoring in the 13th minute on the first shot for the Tritons. Both teams had minimal scoring chances in the opening half with several hard fouls leaving multiple players banged up, including a knock down of IHCC sophomore David Medeiros in the 59th minute that left Medeiros crumpled in pain on one side of the field.
On the other end, play was allowed to continue with IHCC playing short-handed. Iowa Central (8-6, 3-4 ICCAC) took advantage as Jose Des Reis Pereira Neto scored, opening a 2-0 lead for the Tritons.
“It’s tough to overcome some of those obstacles when you have officials that are not taking control of the game,” Espinal said. “They didn’t control of the game and that’s how things get out of hand. Players are able to do things when calls are going for or against them. It’s not the way it should be run. We need the officials to take control of the game and to make sure they have every aspect of it under control.”
Indian Hills (10-2-2, 5-1-1 ICCAC) appeared to have another scoring opportunity taken away when an Iowa Central player appeared to grab the soccer ball in play near the net to prevent a Warrior goal. No call allowed the Tritons to avoid facing a penalty shot.
Finally, Moreno fought though Triton defenders to strike for the first of IHCC’s three straight goals, scoring in the 73rd minute to pull the Warriors within 2-1. Moreno then found Rogatto on a pass through Triton defenders, leading to the tying goal in the 77th minute, giving IHCC over 13 minutes of regulation time to find the winning goal.
Five minutes after tying the match, Indian Hills earned a corner kick. Diogo Adade headed the ball towards the net, only for the ball to strike the cross bar as it briefly appeared Iowa Central had narrowly avoided allowing the go-ahead goal.
In an attempt to clear the ball, however, Andrija Milenkovic headed the ball back into the Triton net. The Warriors took the lead and held on over the final nine minutes for a hard-fought regional win.
“It shows who we are. I’m a firm believer that we have a top team and we are a top team,” Espinal said. “It comes down to, on the day, are we on or are we off? The good thing is, each time, we fight until the end.”
Indian Hills steps out of regional play on Tuesday, hosting Parkland College at 4 p.m.