By Kai Raymer (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
The Harrison (Ark.) High School girls’ soccer team apparently feels just fine playing at Kickapoo’s Pottenger Stadium.
The Lady Goblins haven’t lost there in three matches this season. They survived extreme wind to earn a positive result Thursday night.
Harrison and Ozark played to a 1-1 tie in a Pool B matchup of the Kickapoo Shootout. Due to tournament rules, the match did not continue into overtime.
Ozark senior Shannon Murphy scored the equalizer with nine minutes left in regulation.
“I thought it was a fair result,” said Harrison coach Chris Pratt. “The way the (wind) was, one team was going to have that advantage.
“We had chances – could’ve, should’ve – and they had chances. That’s just the way the ball bounces sometimes.”
The teams battled amid wind gusts of 30+ mph.
“We actually play better with the wind in our face,” Pratt said. “But still, (the wind) was something we didn’t look forward to in the first half.”
Ozark had the wind at its back in the first half, but the match remained scoreless by halftime.
“You can’t push up as much because you’re going to get one boot over the top (as a counter),” said Ozark coach Chris Shull. “That’s smart, we’d do the exact same thing. You worry about getting caught in transition.”
Going against the wind in the second half, Ozark (6-6-1 overall) finally broke through in the 71st minute when freshman Madison Morgan sent a crosser to Murphy.
Murphy settled the pass on her foot and converted the opportunity.
“To finally finish one when it matters, that felt good,” Shull said. “I probably got more excited over that goal than any of our goals this year. I was excited. I was happy for the girls.”
Harrison struck first in the 51st minute off a set piece. Senior co-captain Brylie Parker laced a free kick through from about 30 yards out.
The set-up saw two teammates line up on each side of the ball; they slid apart at the last second to give Parker an opening to shoot.
“Good little set piece there,” Pratt said. “I would’ve liked to see us get that second one a little bit later. But we work on set pieces quite a bit, and that’s why. We can use it as a weapon at all times.”
The match was otherwise a back-and-forth battle between Harrison senior goalkeeper Makayla Campbell and Ozark freshman goalkeeper Laney Burks.
Campbell denied a would-be goal from Ozark senior Jadyn Easley in the 20th minute after the Mizzou commit split a pair of Harrison defenders inside the box.
Two minutes later, another Easley shot hit the post.
Harrison’s record moves to 12-3-1 overall. The Lady Goblins have won three state titles since 2014, and six overall.
Pratt likes the chances of this year’s group when postseason time arrives next month.
“I think we’ll be right there,” he said. “We’ve got the makings of a team that can make (a postseason run). Will they? It remains to be seen. We still have a long way to go.”
Ozark continues a busy stretch Thursday night when they play at Webb City in Central Ozark Conference action.
The Lady Tigers then play Parkview and Smith-Cotton in a doubleheader Saturday (at Parkview High School) to conclude the Kickapoo Shootout.
Harrison hosts Huntsville (Ark.) on Friday. The Lady Goblins return to Springfield on Saturday for an 8 a.m. match against Smith-Cotton at Parkview High School in their final game of the Kickapoo Shootout.
The Lady Goblins beat Parkview 3-1 on April 4 in a Kickapoo Shootout match. They also won 3-0 at Kickapoo on March 26.