New Jersey Faces First-Place Ignition in Saturday Night Showdown
Laventure gets a few tips from goalkeeper Brett Phillips (Photo by Rich Graessle)
Newark, N.J. (Friday, February 27, 2009) – With less than half of the XSL season left to be played, the New Jersey Ironmen (5-7) face a pivotal match-up with the Detroit Ignition (7-4) on Saturday night. Detroit will be hosting the Ironmen at Compuware Arena for a 7:35 p.m. kickoff, and fans can watch the game live via B2 Networks.
"Detroit is tough at home but certainly not invincible, case in point being when Chicago goes in there and gets a result last week,” New Jersey Head Coach Omid Namazi stated. “Having said that, we definitely need a good, collective effort from everyone to put another ‘W’ in our win column."
With only three games separating first and fourth place in the XSL, every team is still in contention for the league championship. In other XSL action tomorrow night, the red-hot Chicago Storm (5-8) host the Milwaukee Wave (7-5), and the Ironmen are currently 2.5 games out of first place with the opportunity to wake up Sunday only 1.5 games back. A Storm victory coupled with a New Jersey win on Saturday will place the Ironmen 1.5 back of Detroit and just a single game behind the Wave.
“The negative with our current situation is that there is very little room for a margin of error,” Namazi commented. “A positive is that we still have every chance to catch the other teams. We must bring our best game and make no silly mistakes; whoever makes the least amount of mistakes will come out on top.”
A recent breath of fresh air for New Jersey has been the play of first-year Ironmen defender Jerrod Laventure. The former New York Red Bull has been a welcome addition to the team since being activated three games ago. A life-long offensive player, Namazi has converted the former Seton Hall standout into a defender for New Jersey, and the move has been paying dividends.
“The conversion has hit me two-fold,” Laventure remarked. “Not only have I had to make the conversion from outdoor to indoor soccer, but I have also had to convert from offense to defense. The conversion has gone well so far because Omid is a great coach, and I listen closely to the advice of the veteran players around me. I realized from the beginning that it wasn’t going to be easy, and I have just taken it step-by-step and day-by-day.”
Having that offensive mindset is something that Laventure has used to his advantage.
“The biggest benefit of having been an offensive player is that I can sense what the attacker is going to do,” he noted.
With the home stretch of the season facing the Ironmen in the face, Laventure insists focus is the key to getting favorable results.
“The long-term goals must always be in the back of your head, but we know we have to take it one game at a time,” he said. “If we do all the little things effectively, everything will fall into place, and we will ultimately be successful.”
New Jersey plays their next three contests on the road before returning to Prudential Center on Sunday, March 22nd, to host Milwaukee. Serving as honorary captain for that game will be former Cosmos captain Werner Roth. The Ironmen return to the Rock that Friday, March 27th, to host Detroit. Playing the role of honorary captain for that match will be five-time MLS Cup Champion Jeff Agoos. Tickets start at only $10 and can be purchased today by calling 1-800-IRONMEN.