By Denise Tucker (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
On the strength of seven second-half goals, the Glendale Falcons rolled to their sixth straight district soccer title, defeating the West Plains Zizzers 9-0 in the Class 3, District 10 final Wednesday night at Parkview High School’s JFK Stadium.
The Falcons, who improved to 21-5 on the season, spread the love with six different players scoring.
“I think it was just one of those nights where, in the first half, we moved the ball well and created a lot of chances; we just weren’t able to find them in the back of the net,” Glendale head coach Jeff Rogers said.
“I cautioned the kids at halftime, that this time of the year you’ve just got to keep your foot on the gas. I think they started to pick up a rhythm and started to find the back of the net, and then we were really able to work our bench and get some kids some playing time.”
Nearly 10 minutes ticked off the clock in the first half before Glendale found the back of the net for the first time. From the left side of the field, Kameron Clark found Ryan Long in front of the goal to put the Falcons on the board (1-0).
And, even though Glendale had a 9-2 shots-on-goal advantage in the first half, the West Plains defense was solid until Garrett Freeman delivered a pass to Ryan Feeney, streaking up the left sideline, who then connected with Jeremiah Epps in front of the Zizzer goal for a 2-0 lead with 3:10 remaining in the half.
Opening the second half, the Falcons peppered shot after shot at the West Plains goal, but were unable to capitalize until a foul outside the goal box gave Glendale an opportunity. Junior defender Mitch Stephens buried the free kick to give the Falcons a 3-0 lead with 25:33 left in the game.
For almost seven minutes, neither team was able to capitalize, but that all changed with 17:03 remaining.
A second yellow card, resulting in a red, sent a Zizzer to the bench, forcing West Plains to play a man down the rest of the game. Grant Compere nailed a shot in the box to put the Falcons up 4-0, and it was off to the races.
“The thing that I knew coming in was the way that our kids move the ball around; by the second half, teams start to wear down,” Rogers said. “They (West Plains) played hard and played with everything they had, but when you’re chasing a ball, you kind of get tired legs and we saw that toward the end.
“We had a lot of fresher legs coming off the bench at them. I think that was just a recipe for success for us tonight.”
The last time West Plains advanced to a district title game was in 2014, where the Zizzers lost to – Glendale, 4-0. First-year head coach Justin Frazier praised his team for advancing to the finals.
“I’m very proud of the boys,” Frazier said. “We’ve had a rough week. One of our starters (Lucas Shertz) was in a serious car accident and is in the hospital (in Springfield). It’s been kind of touch-and-go, but he’s doing better now. We also had a player who had a red card in the game before, so we were missing two of our starters to start with.
“To come out here and be in that game for 60 minutes, I was very proud of them to play that good against a quality team like (Glendale).”
With the first assist of the game, Clark entered the Glendale record books with his 15th assist of the season, as did goalkeeper Gage Patterson, who registered his 16th shutout on the year. Wednesday night’s goals came from: Long, Epps (2), Stephens (2), Compere (2), Anthony Salerno and Andrew Pettenger.
Up next is Rolla (21-4), a 4-1 winner over Helias Catholic in District 9 – in a rematch of last year’s sectional, won by Rolla 1-0.
“I’m excited for the kids,” Rogers said. “I told them, this time of the year, you look forward to practice because they get to practice tomorrow. And, that’s what it’s all about.
“We’ll head to Rolla, lace them up and go see what happens.”