Garcia’s goals propel STC/EM

South Tama County/East Marshall sophomore midfielder Guillermo Garcia-Martinez (11) sends a shot on goal past Maquoketa defender Sean Swanson (8) during the second half of Friday’s soccer match in Tama. Garcia-Marintez had both goals during the Trojans’ 2-0 victory at home against the Cardinals.

A two-goal lead is generally referred to as the most dangerous lead in soccer. It’s easy then for teams to let their guard down and let goals in.

But the two-goal cushion South Tama County/East Marshall held at halftime of Friday afternoon’s win over Maquoketa was more than enough for the Trojans to get to the finish line and reach .500 on the season.

The Trojans (5-5) were favorites coming into the game, with Maquoketa (1-11) having won one game all season and struggling to consistently score goals. But, head coach Nate Van Dyke said, the Trojans had to play without three regular starters, making it crucial that the Trojans took care of business.

As a consequence, Van Dyke said younger players received playing time that could help them develop over the next couple years.

“We’re gonna have to use those guys tomorrow as well,” Van Dyke said. “So it was good to get them in there and get that varsity experience to expose them [to that level].”

Attacking midfielder Guillermo Garcia took matters into his own hands early in the first half, scoring the opener to give STC/EM something to build on for the rest of the half.

It was mostly one-way traffic after the opening goal, with the Trojans emboldened by the Cardinals’ lack of attacking ambition. Kendall Balderas and Roberto Angel in particular were constantly driving at the Maquoketa backline on the right-hand side, putting in crosses and getting to the byline. Forward Ethan Cruikshank was also in constant movement up front, attempting to drag defenders out of position. The Trojans put shots in but didn’t trouble the Cardinals’ goalkeeper often — that is, until Garcia struck again.

With less than three minutes left in the first half, Garcia dribbled to the edge of the penalty box and let loose a shot with his favored left foot. The shot went low and to his left, creeping into the bottom right-hand corner of the net to double the Trojans’ advantage.

The second half featured no goals — something Van Dyke said was a big takeaway for the Trojans to improve upon.

“We did some good things,” Van Dyke said. “We did good distributing the ball once we actually got down toward the goal, would like to see a couple more opportunities go in or a couple more shots within the 18[yard box].”

Despite not finding the back of the net, the Trojans were consistently finding their way into the final third, peppering the Maquoketa box with crosses and shots. STC/EM was largely unbothered on the defensive side of the ball, with the only real shot from the Cardinals coming on a free kick with 24 seconds left.

STC/EM has a quick turnaround, playing in a three-game tournament at Waverly Saturday and facing off against Clear Lake at 9 a.m. in the first game.