Demize slip to second place; Midwest playoffs ahead
Heartland Cup playoff matchups are set. Springfield Demize will face off against FC Wichita in the first semifinal of the MASL 3 Midwest Championship to be held in Wichita, Kansas at 5:00 PM on Saturday, February 19. The second semifinal will see top seeded Des Moines United take on Sunflower State FC with kick-off at 7:30 PM.
The Springfield Demize had mixed results their last two home games of the regular season. On February 5, FC Wichita were in town and scored a pair of early goals in the first quarter by Alvarao Quezanda. The lead would be short-lived though after a hat trick by former Nixa High School all-time leading scorer and SBU Bearcat, Kaleb Romero, who made his return a memorable one. The Demize would then stretch the lead to 5-2 with goals by Stephen Al Sayed and Drury Panther graduate Logan Favreau.
FC Wichita would make a comeback of their own to tie the game 5-5 in the third quarter with three consecutive goals. However, the Demize would answer back with goals by Gustavo Nascimento, Francisco Delgado, and Carlton Epps (a senior at Branson High School making his rookie debut). The defense was lead by goalkeeper Nico Helin and the game with finish with the Demize on top 8-3.
The second game of the Demize home stretch played February 12 would see the top spot in the Midwest standings claimed by Des Moines United. This game was rescheduled from January 15 due to an extreme winter storm.
The Demize would strike first with a goal by Vinny Albino to take the lead 1-0 through the first quarter. The second quarter would see the Des Moines goalkeeper making big saves to keep the game close and eventually United would show their quality to take a 3-1 lead scoring twice during power plays. The Demize would answer with goals by Moises Jacobo and captain Erik Periera.
An exciting fourth quarter with late heroics from the away team including defenders making two goal line clearances and the home team hitting the crossbar on an open net would keep the score at 4-3. It would be as close as the Demize would come to keeping their unbeaten streak at home intact as United would tally one more goal late in the fourth quarter to win the game 5-3.