KINGSFORD - The second meeting of the season between Iron Mountain and Marquette proved to be a game of inches.
Able to slide a shot off the finger tips of Iron Mountain goal keeper Jared Gauthier on what was a wet and slick Commemorative Field, Marquette held on for a 1-0 victory on a muggy Thursday evening.
"We had a couple of good opportunities, missed a couple of goals, but so did they," Mountaineers head coach Rob Bogaudo said. "It could have been a totally different game."
Iron Mountain’s David Bogaudo clashes with Marquette’s Collin Shinners for possession of the ball during the first half Thursday.
After a scoreless first half, the Redmen cashed in the 18th minute of the second half. Andrew Banitt, taking a pass from Lehomm Pickard, shot a grounder from left to right and just off the fingertips of a diving Gauthier for the game's only tally.
"It's just like we work on," said Marquette coach
Matt Tebo, whose team coasted to a 5-0 win in this season's earlier meeting with the Mountaineers. "It went out wide to one of our forwards and our center midfielder made the run to the middle and played it with his left foot to the bottom right corner.
"We had a lot of chances, especially toward the end of the first half, but we just couldn't convert."
Credit Gauthier, a first-year player, for much of Marquette's first-half misery.
"He did a good job tonight for sure," Tebo said. "He's a good communicator, and he's very smart back there. He's a good goal keeper and they are lucky to have him."
Marquette, unofficially, peppered around 20 shots on Gauthier.
"He's just doing an amazing job," Bogaudo said.
Iron Mountain's shot total was about half of Marquette, but not without several prime chances.
A few of the Mountaineers best chances to force overtime came in the game's final two minutes, including a point-blank header attempt by Nathan Trepp that Marquette senior goalie Anthony Lackey was able to tip high at the last moment.
Iron Mountain also saw a few shots get by Lackey but roll just wide.
"Yeah, we had a couple," Bogaudo said. "Lackey, he's a good goalie. That's all there is to it."
Marquette (12-4-1) is unbeaten in its last 11 games, but saw a serious challenge to that streak emerge from the much-improved Mountaineers.
"It's always hard to come here," Tebo said. "I don't care if we're playing Iron Mountain or Kingsford and it's the first game of the season or one of the last. We always expect a tough game and we got it. Luckily we were just on the positive end.
"We were very smart at the back end. Our keeper played excellent today, very smart. He definitely keeps us in the game sometimes."
The match opened under rainy conditions, but the majority of the game was precip free. Another deluge struck just moments after the final horn.
But with temperatures holding in the 70s, humidity was a challenge to each team's conditioning.
"It's really hard to play a possession game how we play on a night like this," Tebo said. "But that's part of soccer and we just go out and try to do our best."
"It's like breathing under water, it's ridiculous," Bogaudo said. "But I thought we played well. I have nothing bad to say. We are coming on strong in the second part of the season."
Iron Mountain (4-5) hosts a game again tonight, welcoming Three Lakes before heading to Eagle River a few games this weekend, including a rematch with the Redmen.