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Des Moines Review & Peoria Preview

Against a ranked Des Moines Menace, River Light FC (2-0-1) left it late as debutant Luke Van Heukelum scored in the 88’ minute to give River Light the three points at Spartan Athletic Park.

“I've been getting back from injury so I haven't played in a while and I wasn't super fit but I'm glad I got the goal,” Van Heukelum said.

River Light hit the ground running as two early warning shots went astray in the first couple of minutes of the first half. In the third minute, some miscommunication in the Des Moines backline left Georgetown's Max Viera ready to run at goal and cross to an open Marek Gonda who shot the ball at an attentive Enzo Carvahlo.

“He probably took three or four off the board for us and hats off to him,” head coach Charles Latshaw said. “He did about as good of a job as you can possibly do and it's not like they were easy saves, some of these were world class saves and the boy has a bright future.”

Gaining confidence, Des Moines started making their way up the field and almost cracked the game open in the 20th minute with a shot that reverberated off Oregon State’s Gandhi Cruz’s left post. 12 minutes later, disaster almost struck again as Des Moines moved into the penalty area, leaving Cruz and the River Light back line in a frenzy to build a makeshift wall to keep out

another dangerous opportunity.

While River Light started on the front foot, Des Moines continued to insist as the half went on, but despite both teams persistence neither found the back of the net in the first half thanks to the performances of both keepers.

Back from the locker room, River Light continued to dominate in possession with Gonda finding himself in good positions but being denied the opener by the Des Moines keeper. In the 53’ minute, Des Moines made the River Light posts shake again as Cruz extended at his far post.

With both teams unable to land any blows, Latshaw played the winning card as he brought on Van Heukelum off the bench for a 10-minute shift.

“We had an opportunity to get the two big number nines in the field together and in a moment in the game where we probably had some tired legs it was about getting the ball forward,” Latshaw said. “So for us, his instructions were to get himself a goal and play off of [Michael] Rossi.”

With two minutes left in regulation, a play that started in the backline quickly flourished into a silky cross from Earnest Mensah to the feet of Van Heukelum. Taking control of the ball in the 18-yard box, Van Heukelum turned and got a shot off between three defenders and past the keeper for the deciding goal.

“I got a nice pass from the outside and I got a nice turn and put it in the bottom corner, and that keeper had a great game all game so I was lucky to get that shot off and put it in the back of the net,” Van Heukelum said.

With the advantage, five tense minutes followed as River Light held on to stay undefeated this season while taking down one of the best in the nation.

Against Chicago Dutch Lions Despite being labeled as an away game, River Light FC didn’t have to go far as they saw out a 2-0 win against the Chicago Dutch Lions FC at Spartan Athletic Park. Last Sunday, two first half goals sealed the three points for River Light who played with a heavily rotated squad.

Alex Flowers, Tomek Slawek, Enrique Gonzales, Pavel Valchev, Preston Huitron, and Luke Van Heukelum all received their first starts this season while Slawek and Valchev played their first minutes for the club.

Dominating the midfield and generating chances early in the match, River Light struck first as Alex Barger crossed the ball to Nico Bartlett who dove to head the ball and score River Light’s opener. Bartlett scored his first goal for River Light after earning his third consecutive start this season.

It didn’t take long for River Light to find a second as another cross into the box found Van Heukelum inside the 18-yard box, who headed the ball into the back of the net with pinpoint precision. Van Heukelum scored his second consecutive goal of the season after making his debut against Des Moines Menace earlier in the week.

As the Dutch Lions made their way up the field, they consistently hit a wall as they met the River Light Defense, led by the keeper Flowers.

As the second half rolled around, River Light continued to create chances but another goal didn’t come. While the Dutch Lions, still looking for their first goal of the season, had opportunities to get back in the game they couldn’t execute in front of goal. While the second half didn’t see any more River Light goals, the defense made sure they got the clean sheet.

River Light has another tough task against the current second best team in the nation, Peoria City, who comes into town looking to stay on top of the Heartland Division.

Peoria City haven’t conceded a goal since May 11 against Des Moines Menace and are one of the strongest attacking teams in the conference this season, scoring 16 goals in their last three games against Heartland Division competition.

Join us tonight as we take on Peoria City at 7:00pm.


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