By Kai Raymer (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
Tuesday night’s Class 3 sectional match with Glendale and Rolla came down to midfield play.
Fortunately for the Falcons, they had Grant Compere on their side.
The junior midfielder had a pair of pinpoint assists in Glendale’s 2-0 home victory, helping the Falcons advance in the state playoffs.
“Grant, to me right now, is one of the best players on the field,” said Glendale coach Jeff Rogers. “He’s just able to run at people and that creates opportunities for others as defenses break down.”
Compere set up Ryan Feeney for headers in each half. In the 23rd minute, he played a ball into the box from about the 40 yardline.
A leaping Feeney headed it home for a 1-0 Falcons lead.
“It’s really nice to have Ryan (and others) up top,” Compere said. “Every time I hit a long ball or a ball over the top, I know he can be the one to get there.”
The two connected again in the 52nd minute, with Feeney again finishing on a header.
“Grant’s really good at serving those balls in,” Feeney said. “He always serves great balls from corner kicks to free kicks to basically anywhere. I was lucky to find the headers on them tonight.”
With the win, Glendale (19-7 overall) advances to the Class 3 quarterfinal round. The Falcons travel to Neosho (13-10-1 overall) which beat Parkview 2-1 on Tuesday, for a match this Saturday afternoon.
Neosho had not won a sectional match before Tuesday night’s result.
Glendale now has 14 sectionals wins, but hasn’t made it to state since 2014. The Falcons fell 2-1 at home to Republic in last year’s Class 3 quarterfinals.
“There’s 18 of us (seniors) this year, so we all really wanted it to happen,” Feeney said. “We’ve all put in the effort. Even though we’ve had some guys injured, we’re still stepping up and playing our best game. It’s great to see it happen in the postseason.”
Rolla threatened to cut Glendale’s lead in half in the 62nd minute. The Bulldogs slipped a ball through the Glendale backline to senior forward Jarrett Gabriele for a breakaway, but Falcons goalkeeper Kendrick Scott made a diving save.
“You just kind of sense, ‘That was it,’” said Rolla coach Mike Howard. “When you don’t score there, it was pretty deflating for our team. But you can’t blame (the outcome) on just that one play. There were a lot of other things that happened, too.”
That was the best scoring chance of the night for the Bulldogs, with Glendale controlling the game from the midfield. Glendale also beat Rolla in double-overtime at home in the regular season.
“Tonight, they won almost every 50-50 ball, especially in the midfield and up top,” Howard said. “They just dominated us in the midfield and our backline.”
Last week, the Falcons defeated West Plains to earn their seventh straight district championship.
“After the injuries and figuring out who they were, our players have come together at the right time,” Rogers said.
Rolla finishes 16-10-1 overall and graduates a seven-player senior class.
“It’s been a lot of fun. They’re a good group of kids,” Howard said. “Unless you win the state championship, you’re going to lose your last game of the season. You wish it wasn’t tonight. Glendale has a great team and program. They were by far the better team tonight.”