By Kai Raymer (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
Few programs have been on par with the Kickapoo girls’ soccer team over the last 10-plus years.
Since 2005, the Chiefs have had multiple seasons of 15 or more wins, nine district championships and two state quarterfinal appearances.
One thing’s been missing: an Ozark Conference championship.
The Chiefs topped rival Glendale 2-1 Wednesday night, clinching their first OC championship since the 2005 season.
“Hard to believe it’s been that long, huh?” said veteran Chiefs coach Phil Hodge. “From day one, we’ve put a lot of emphasis on the conference. We really wanted to make that a point and try to win it this year.”
Last week, the Chiefs (13-8-1 overall) beat Rolla for the first time in conference play since 2009. Over the years, teams like Glendale, Waynesville and Camdenton had also kept the Chiefs in a conference title drought.
“It’s unbelievable,” said Chiefs senior Ally Maska. “We haven’t done it in so long.”
Chiefs sophomore Ellie Miller scored the game’s deciding goal late in the first half.
Miller capitalized on a Glendale misplay in the back, then made a long run down the left side and fired a clean shot.
Miller’s goal gave Kickapoo a 2-1 lead. The Chiefs’ defense made the one-goal lead stand over the final 42 minutes.
“(Ellie) intercepted the pass and made a heck of a play,” Hodge said. “That’s a long run with the ball on her foot. To still out-run a defender, that’s a great play on her part.”
Maska scored the game’s first goal in the 27th minute. Kickapoo freshman Teddi Riddle won control of the ball against a defender, then played it across the middle to Maska.
“She had a good assist to me and I just put it in,” Maska said.
Maska had the golden goal in Kickapoo’s 2-1 win over Jefferson City on Monday. Hodge called her the team’s unofficial MVP in recent games.
“I’ve been trying to boost my own encouragement up,” Maska said. “Soccer’s such a mental game. You have to pump yourself up sometimes.”
Glendale (8-9 overall) tied it 1-1 just two minutes later. The Falcons found freshman Jenna Kirtley wide open on the far side of the box. She centered it Emma Miller for the goal.
It was Emma Miller’s team-leading 15th goal of the season.
Wednesday’s match concludes the regular season for both teams.
Kickapoo’s the top seed and host for next week’s Class 4 District 10 tournament. The Chiefs face Lebanon at 5 p.m. Tuesday.
The winner of that match faces the winner of Ozark-Central in the district finals at 6 p.m. Thursday, May 17.
Glendale’s the top seed for the Class 3 District 10 tournament, hosted by Parkview. The Falcons play Marshfield at 5 p.m. Monday.
The winner of that match faces the Parkview-West Plains winner in the district finals at 6 p.m. Wednesday, May 16.
Kickapoo 2, Glendale 1
Glendale 1 0 — 1
Kickapoo 2 0 — 2
Kickapoo – Maska (Riddle assist)
Glendale – Em. Miller (Kirtley assist)
Kickapoo – El. Miller