For 81 minutes, the Tomah Timberwolves survived their propensity to commit fouls.
Their luck ran out in the 82nd minute.
Ryan Jones converted a penalty kick that accounted for the only goal of the match in La Crosse Central’s 1-0 victory over the Timberwolves in a Mississippi Valley Conference boys soccer match Thursday at Veterans Field.
That was followed Friday by a 3-1 home loss to Reedsburg. The Timberwolves emerged from the two matches with a 1-8-0 overall record.
The loss to Central was disappointing for the Timberwolves, who were coming off a 5-1 victory over La Crosse Aquinas and facing a Central team with an identical MVC record.
However, the fouls ultimately cost the Timberwolves a chance to move up the MVC food chain. They got away with giving up several earlier free kicks just outside the goalkeeper’s box, but the lone foul they committed inside the box was too much to overcome. It set up a penalty kick in which Ryan Jones got Tomah goalkeeper Nolan Stees to lean to his right before kicking a laser to Stees’ left.
Tomah didn’t get a decent scoring opportunity in the final eight minutes as Central dropped an extra defender back.
Central had the better of the scoring opportunities in the first half. A Central header went a foot over the top crossbar in the 15th minute, and the Red Raiders forced Stees to make a pair of tough saves late in the half. In the 39th minute, Stees dove to his right to bat away a free kick, and in the 43rd minute, he used his right palm to swat away a shot inside the goalkeeper’s box.
Tomah controlled the first 25 minutes of the second half and nearly took a 1-0 lead in the 50th minute, when Dylan Pierce twisted himself to fire a shot from inside the goalkeeper’s box that skipped off the top crossbar and out of bounds.
The Red Raiders regained the initiative in the 70th minute, when a shot hit the left goal post. Six minutes later, Stees stepped out to bat away an angled shot from 20 feet away and then stretched to make a two-handed save of the ensuing corner kick.
The match against Reedsburg was closer than the two-goal margin indicated. Tomah’s Noah Nick scored a goal to deadlock the match at 1-1 before Reedsburg scored two goals late in the contest.
The Timberwolves return to action Tuesday for an MVC match against Logan at 5 p.m. at Veterans Field.
MVC BOYS SOCCER
West Salem 6-0-1
Results of Sept. 14
Central 1 Tomah 0
Holmen 3 Sparta 2
Logan 3 Aquinas 2
West Salem 1 Onalaska 0