CEDAR RAPIDS — With three matches left in its expansion season, the Cedar Rapids Inferno semipro soccer team is chasing a playoff berth.
The addition of former Cedar Rapids Xavier Saints Thomas Bean and Luke Duball may help it get there.
“Those guys have come in and fit in within a practice or two just like they were here from day one,” said Cedar Rapids Owner/Coach Kenan Malicevic, who will lead the Inferno into a United Premier Soccer League match against DeKalb County United Saturday at 5 p.m. at Mount Mercy. “There is a reason why both of them have actually started the last game and have contributed tremendously. Luke and Thomas have already scored and they are some of the youngest guys on our team. The philosophy that we try to interpret within the team and with the chemistry that we are dealing with currently, they are just a perfect fit. Super respectful guys, hard-working guys and that is exactly what we have been looking for all along.”
Bean, Duball and fellow Inferno player Will Hanigan were all on the 2015 Xavier team that won the program’s last boys’ soccer state title. Bean just completed his freshman year at Truman State (Mo.), while Duball will be a junior at Western Illinois in the fall.
Both players scored a goal for the Inferno on June 8 against the Croatian Eagles, the first win in franchise history.
“I feel like it has gone well,” Duball said. “We have been working as a team. We have both been playing outside back, so it has been a lot of fun. It is a really fun team to play with and get to play with people like I used to play with in high school and against and a lot of local people, so it is really cool to be back.”
With a win Saturday, Cedar Rapids (1-2-2) can get within a point of DeKalb County United (2-1-3) for second place in the UPSL Midwest Conference Central Division. The top two teams in the division will qualify for the playoffs.
The teams battled to a 1-1 draw on May 4 at DeKalb.
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“I can confidently say we completely outplayed them at their field,” Malicevic said. “It was 1-1, but the goal that was allowed to them was at least a 5-to-10-yard offside. We are still very disappointed in that, but we are not a team that is going to pick on the refs. The stats speak for themselves. We out-shot them 17-4 in that game, so we are going into this game pretty confident. But again, it is a brand new game.”
Saturday will be the final Inferno match of the season for team captain Gabe Christianson, a former Cedar Rapids Kennedy prep who will be leaving for a family trip to France.
“I am actually going to tell the guys that this will be a game that we play for him,” Malicevic said. “Because he has contributed to this team a lot. His maturity and his experience has brought a lot of positivity in our team. I am looking forward to seeing how we step up on the field for him and battle for him in this game.”
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