In two one-on-one showdowns with the opposing goaltender, Muscatine High School’s Grant Bode prevailed each time to lead the Muskie Boys football team to a 2-0 win over non-conference opponents Regina of Iowa City.
On Friday there was a showdown between two classified teams. Muscatine is ranked 11th in Class 3A while Regina is No. 11 in 1A.
Bode’s goals came on penalties minutes before the end of Friday night’s first half at the Muscatine Soccer Complex.
“At halftime we talked about being aware of our circumstances,” Muscatine head coach Jose Varela said. “We were 2-0 up and just wanted to control the game and stay clean.”
It was fitting that the Muskies had to rely on Bode and other seniors to make the big games against Regina, as Muscatine honored their strong class of players in their final years of eligibility.
“That’s what we wanted and we did it. (Senior Night) is one of our biggest nights of the year. We just wanted to make sure it didn’t become a distraction. We do what we have to do. The boys deserve to be recognized for four years of playing time.”
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The first came in the 37th minute. It started with a strong run by sophomore Ty Cozad who was brought down in the Regina box.
The next came a little over a minute later.
On the first, Bode’s kick went square to center as Regal keeper Andrew Wiese dove to his left, only to see him whizzing past the same spot he’d just been planted.
While there was some wit involved, Senior Bode won the second head-to-head duel. Wiese, otherwise good at defending Muskie shots and making seven saves, opted for the second PK to stay in the center of the goal.
Bode drove it past him to the exact spot where Wiese appeared first.
“The first time he played a few mind games and jumped back and forth,” said Bode. “So I thought he was going to dive. Going in the middle is a bit risky, but it worked.
“On the second, the right (corner) is my favorite spot. So I just went to my bread and butter.”
In the second half, Muscatine (13-3) rested on his strong midfield and defense to choke out the Regals (8-11).
There were more chances for the Muskies, who allowed Regina just six shots at the protective keeper Logan Wolf. Muskie’s senior goalie needed just three saves to keep the clean sheet.
“Our center-backs Grant, Reece (Eberhard) and Nate (Larsen) and our center-backs Miles (Melendez) and Drake (Gray) are all talking a lot,” senior captain Scout Schmelzer said. “They move the ball quickly. That shapes our game and keeps us calm. It keeps the pace up, especially in the middle where our team is running through.”
The Muskies continue to rack up gritty wins. The squad is in the midst of an eight-game winning streak that stretches back to April 26.
Still unbeaten in the Mississippi Athletic Conference game 8-0, Muscatine travels to Pleasant Valley on Monday to win the championship as PV is the only other MAC team unbeaten in the conference.
“We have learned to be comfortable in tight games,” said Bode. “We know that at the end of the day, when we do everything we can, do the right things and work hard, we usually come out on top.”
Monday is the last game of the regular season for Muscatine and PV. Both teams reside at 3A Substate 6 and could be back on the line with a spot at the state tournament.
Before that, Muscatine meets the winner of Davenport West and Bettendorf. These two teams will play each other in the regular season finals on Monday. And will face off again on the 19th to open postseason play.
“We will play hard and physical,” said Varela. “Football should be physical. Unfortunately, some don’t see it that way. But it’s a physical sport. You should run after the ball.
“The guys did really well today.”
Muscatine 2, Iowa City Regina 0
Halftime – Muscatine 2, Regina 0. Goals – MUS Grant Bode (unassisted); MUS Grant Bode (unsupported). Recordings – MUS 11; IC Regina 6th Saves – MUS (Logan Wolf 2); IC Regina (Andrew Wiese 7. Corners – MUS 2; IC Regina 1. Offside – MUS 1; IC Regina 0. Fouls – MUS 15; IC Regina 9. Cards – Yellow (MUS Miles Melendez)
Records: nutmeg 13-3; IC Regina 8-11