By Kai Raymer (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
It won’t be easy to top Ozark’s 2018 season.
The Tigers won over 20 games, scored a lot of goals, earned a share of the conference title and won a district championship.
But the returning pieces could be in place for an encore. Or more.
Seven starters are back for Ozark as the Tigers aim for a repeat district championship and a run in the Class 4 state soccer tournament.
“We’re excited to have seven starters back from a 23-win team,” Davidson said. “We feel good about the players and leadership that returns.”
Ozark’s led by senior forward TK Stine, who had a breakout campaign as a junior. The Class 4 all-state selection netted 22 goals and seven assists last season.
Second team All-Central Ozark Conference selection Carson Amstutz returns at midfield. As a junior, Amstutz tallied six goals and four assists while also playing along Ozark’s backline at times.
Ozark returns two more players who scored 12 or more goals apiece.
Seniors Wade Korns (13 goals, 10 assists) and Troy Davidson (12 goals, 12 assists) will again fill offensive roles at forward or midfield for the Tigers.
Mason DeMoss, who earned all-conference honorable mention a year ago, leads Ozark’s defense.
Coach Davidson said his returning group is battle-tested and willing to make the extra pass.
“This is a very unselfish team with a lot of varsity experience,” he said.
Ozark comes off one of its best seasons in program history. The Tigers finished 23-4 overall in 2018, their most wins since 2009 (19-5 overall), and won their second district title in three years.
Ozark earned a share of the COC regular season title with Nixa. Ozark beat Branson (2-0) and Kickapoo (1-0) to win its district tournament.
The Tigers graduated a small but productive senior class.
The graduated starters include: first team all-state defender Nick Rushing, all-region defender/midfielder Lawson Spence and all-conference goalkeeper Sean Smith.
Spence, who now plays for Drury, is Ozark’s all-time leading scorer.
Ozark outscored its opponents by a combined margin of 99-20 last season. They scored three or more goals in 18 matches.
Ozark’s season ended with a 2-1 loss to Columbia Rock Bridge in sectionals. Springfield Catholic (2-0) and Nixa (5-2) were the only local teams to beat Ozark last season.
Ozark begins the regular season Sept. 3 at Republic. The Tigers won’t play a home match until Sept. 17 when they host rival Nixa.