The Ozark Varsity team headed to Rolla HS for the annual Invitational Tournament Friday September 27th for a weekend of soccer. The tournament boasts some of the states top teams in soccer. Ozark will face Southern Boone County, the top ranked Class 1A team, Friday night.
Thursday night soccer pitted two of the areas top teams under the lights at Cooper Soccer Park. The Glendale Falcons hosted the Ozark Tigers in what proved to be a District finals quality match, 2 games into the fall season. Play from both sides started strong, with the Tigers driving deep into the Falcon’s defense seconds into the match. Possession was fairly equal early on, with both sides demonstrating excellent ball movement from the first whistle. Glendale opened the Ozark defense up with several off center runs into the defensive third, earning the first goal of the match at the 11 minute mark. The Tigers, showing repeated glimpses of great attacking soccer, wasted no time in finding the net as Senior Jorge Diaz de Mera assisted Junior Hunter Wallace’s well placed finish to tie the match at 1-1, 50 seconds following the Falcon’s point. Possession remained fairly equal throughout the first half, with both teams sharing opportunities. The Falcon’s continued to test Senior center defensive backs, Hunter Earnest and Than Poivre, while help from Junior Alex Bauer and Ross Ruhman strengthened the defense end. Sophomore GK, TJ Shelton, recorded several saves keeping the game 1-1 until the 29 min, where the Falcon’s pushed forward again scoring from a well placed cross from the right side of the 18 yard box. Ozark again wasted little time pushing forward. Freshman James Pottberg made a strong tackle deep in the Falcon’s box allowing Wallace to place the ball just past the reach of the Falcon defenders to assist Sophomore Mason Shelor with the equalizer in the 34th minute.
Ending the 1st half at 2-2, the Falcon’s came out strong the 2nd half gaining several unanswered shots. Possession for the first 15 minutes went mostly to the Falcon’s, as Ozark worked defensively to keep the game tight. Freshman Keaton Amstutz, filling in the for Ruhman, provided additional support for center backs Earnest and Poivre, who where essential in preventing several potential scoring opportunities for the Falcons. After settling back into some possession, the Tigers continued to create great opportunities on the offensive end. Center midfielder Hunter Wallace sent Sophomore Bailey Williams through the Falcon’s defensive line, where Williams cut a round the Falcon defender to push the ball forward, 1v1 with keeper. The Falcon’s keeper, quick to come off his line, capitalized on a slightly strong final touch by Williams, coming up with a critical save in the 65th minute. Several minutes later, the Falcon’s found the goal ahead point, and never looked back, generating several late corner kicks, forcing Ozark deep into the defensive end. The final two minutes of play were highlighted by both squads determination to create opportunity. Senior Captain Sam Gunnels had a great look at the net in the final minutes of play, were his left footed shot from distance was saved by the Falcon’s keeper. In the 79 minute, the Falcon’s finished the game with a finessed shot just outside the hands of Ozark’s GK, Shelton. The game ended with the Falcon’s taking the points in a 4-2 match. Coach Tom Davidson was impressed with the level of play and effort exhibited by the younger Ozark squad. “To play at this level, with this caliber of a team and this early on in the season, is a great thing. We did a lot of great things this evening, and based on what I’ve seen, we have a lot we can build on as the season progresses.” The Tigers, 1-1-0, look to continue their early success and development Tuesday, when they travel south to face the Branson Pirates.