In between a tough loss to then unbeaten Marshalltown, the South Tama boys soccer team won a pair of hard-fought home games.
The Trojans fell to the much-larger Bobcats, who improved to 9-0 with the win, by the score of 7-0 on April 29. Three days earlier, the Trojans beat Iowa Falls-Alden 5-3 and two days after the loss, they rallied to defeat Vinton-Shellsburg 2-1.
"We were really tired," head coach Dima Shklyarov said. "The starters on this team are all really young and they played six games in six days last week and they played last night, too. We lost our starting goalkeeper last night so everything is difficult right now. I'm glad they overcame this, but the quality of play was horrific."
Last Tuesday, the Trojans and Vikings played a physical game in Tama. Neither team was able to score during the first half, despite several shots by both teams. Midway through the second half, Vinton-Shellsburg connected on a shot, taking a 1-0 lead with less than 25 minutes remaining in the game.
South Tama tried to speed up its offense but struggled to move the ball deep into the Vikings territory during the next 10 minutes. Several penalties by the Vikings set up scoring chances for the Trojans but nothing prevailed.
Several minutes later, freshman Jerry Lowe received a pass as he outran the Vikings defense. Lowe booted the ball past the Vikings goalkeeper and tied the game at 1-1.
"I was proud of them when they scored the first goal," Shklyarov said. "It means they connected. As you can see, they realize they were under playing so much that the next two goals came easy. They worked really hard to work for the first goal."
Sophomore Adrian Castanon beat the Vikings defense a few minutes later and scored his goal of the contest. The goal was highly controversial according to the Vikings coaches, who thought Castanon was offside before the goal. However, the official told the coaches that Castanon was onside when he was passed the ball, therefore the goal stands. STC led 2-1 with less than 10 minutes remaining in the game.
South Tama's final goal came shortly after's its second goal. Lowe beat the Vikings defense one more time. This time, he dribbled between two defenders who were very close together and then he beat the next defender with his speed. Lowe finished the play with a strong kick, putting the ball in the net and locking up the victory.
"I don't think Jerry needs any kind of reinforcement that he's a big star for the future," Shklyarov said. "He has many problems to fix, but when he's on, he's tough for anyone to stop. He's a very talented player, but I wish he would work as hard as his talent. If he would put much work into it, he would become fantastic. He can dribble around one, two or three players, but we need him to do it in the right time and the right place. The most important part and the most difficult is we must deliver the ball to him."
Four days before the Trojans beat Vinton-Shellsburg, they hosted Iowa Falls-Alden for a home match. Both teams played a 2-2 tie at halftime, but they weren't done scoring by any means.
"In the first half, I moved Eric Luna, who usually plays sweeper for us, to forward," Shklyarov said. "We wanted to utilize his passing skills and I think that played a big part in our success. He set the pace for us tonight."
In the second half, South Tama took a 3-2 lead, despite playing into the wind. However, IFA quickly responded and tied the contest at 3-3. Then the Trojans finished the game with two more quick goals, winning the game 5-3.
Castanon led South Tama with three goals in the game. Alex Martinez scored one goal and earned three assists in the win. Jose Alcazar score the other STC goal, while Eric Luna had one assist. Luis Perez recorded nine saves as the goalkeeper.
"I think we are able to play like this for a whole game, but we let them score too much," Shklyarov said. "We usually start the game very slow, but we played well at the end. They played better tonight than they did last game.
"We needed this tonight," he added. "We have had chances to beat several teams, where we've lost 2-1. We were close to winning those games. They needed this to realize they are much better than their results right now. They should build upon this, because their attack was where it should be today. I'm happy for them."
South Tama Denver at home on Monday and will host Benton Community at 4:30 p.m. Friday at home.