Leith Dunick, tbnewswatch.com
Des Moines defender Jack Pearson (left) trips up Thunder Bay's Sullivan Silva on Saturday. The Chill won the game 3-0.
In soccer, sometimes a single goal is all it takes to blow a game wide open.
That’s exactly what transpired Saturday at Chapples Park, where Juan Velez was denied on a second half penalty kick, but bashed home the rebound to set the Chill offence in gear.
The kick was awarded when Des Moines goalie Jonathan Viscosi tripped Fernando Alvarez in the box. Minutes later Menace teammate Jack Pearson was ejected for collecting his second yellow of the game, after touching the ball, intentionally officials ruled, with his hand.
It left the Menace shorthanded the rest of the way.
Alvarez and Jose Altamirano added singles for the Chill, who went on to complete the weekend sweep and move to within a win of clinching a sixth straight Premier Development League playoff berth.
“My goal just gave us a chance to relax,” said Altamirano, who summersaulted in celebration when he beat Des Moines goalie Jhojan Obando in the 87th minute.
“I think the game was getting hectic. Two-zero is the worst lead to have and I think with the third goal they kind of put their head down and just kind of gave up. I just went into the box and did a good run. Sam (McCrillis) found me and I scored.”
The two wins eliminated the Menace (5-5-2) from the first-place battle, leaving only Real Colorado and Springfield in the race.
“Those six points were important for us because we want the top because we want teams to be chasing us. We don’t want to be chasing teams,” Altamirano said.
Thunder Bay is eight points up on second-place Colorado, and has two games in hand. Springfield is a further point back.
The Chill (9-1-0), earned their eighth shutout in 10 games and Stephen Paterson picked up his sixth scoreless appearance in eight outings.
Paterson said the defence-first mentality is only successful because of how well the Chill work together as a team.
Without that effort – and a stellar performance from the defenders in front of him – Paterson said there’s no way the Chill could be anywhere near the success story they are in 2012.
“We’ve got some good players. That’s all I can really say. Really, everybody just does their part individually and we come together great as a team. I can’t say that we started rough at the beginning of the year.
“We’ve developed. We started strong and we continued strong. We’ve only got good places to go from here now.”
Chill coach Tony Colistro said it was an evenly-matched contest for the first half and then some, but an unfortunate break cost the Menace any hope of collecting points on the road.
“I just told the guys they had to stay patient and stay composed, and then they’ll get their opportunities – and with the strikers we have we’ll get those opportunities,” Colistro said.
“I thought that was a valid penalty kick. But then losing a man, he was a key player for them and we took advantage of that for sure.”
Pitch marks: The Chill travel to St. Louis for a pair against the Lions next Saturday and Sunday. They return to the road the following weekend for a rematch against the Menace, then finish the regular season on July 13 and 14 against Kansas City … The Chill have allowed a league low three goals this season.