By Kai Raymer (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
Ozark had ample scoring opportunities against Glendale on Thursday night.
Rebounds. Set pieces. One-timers.
But at halftime, the Tigers stood level (1-1) with a young, feisty Glendale squad.
“I told them in our halftime huddle, ‘Boys, we have to start finishing our chances,’” said Ozark coach Tom Davidson.
It took another 30 minutes, but Ozark finally capitalized.
Senior Wade Korns’ goal in the 71st minute lifted Ozark past Glendale 2-1 and improved the Tigers’ overall record to 2-0 on the young season.
Amid a scrum in the box, Carson Amstutz headed the ball over to Korns, who got enough of his body on it for the finish. The ball crossed the goal-line as Korns fell to his knees near the left post.
“It hit off my head, onto my shoulder and went in,” Korns said. “I was trying to flick it in and it kind of went down, so it nicked off me but it still went in.”
It was a sigh-of-relief goal for Ozark, who threatened all night off set pieces.
“That’s what happened the other night at Republic, too. We just had so many throw-ins, so many set pieces,” Davidson said. “You just hope that sometimes they’ll fall at somebody’s feet.”
On the other side, Glendale was left wondering what could’ve been.
The Falcons had a tremendous scoring opportunity in the 58th minute when a player beat the Ozark goalkeeper to a 50-50 ball, only to misfire on an open net.
“If you would’ve told me (before the game) a 2-1 final and we were in it to win, with our youth and inexperience… I think we gave Ozark everything they wanted,” said Glendale coach Jeff Rogers. “(Ozark’s) reaction of winning told me what I needed to go off of.”
Ozark struck first in the 18th minute off a hustle goal from senior forward TK Stine.
Stine also pestered Glendale’s passes along the backline throughout the match.
“We just tell him, ‘Stay relentless up there.’ So many mistakes happen in front of the goal and if he’s just there, he gets those easy goals,” Davidson said. “He’s doing a good job pressuring the ball.”
Glendale answered five minutes later with the best-looking goal on the night.
Senior midfielder Grant Compere slipped a ball through to forward Karter Lowry, who beat Ozark’s goalkeeper and converted on an empty net.
Lowry, who also plays basketball for Glendale, is a first-year soccer player.
He’s also one of only five seniors on the Glendale roster, a stark change from a year ago when the Falcons had their largest senior class in program history.
Thursday night, Glendale trotted out a starting lineup that had seven sophomores and a freshman goalkeeper.
“We have to figure out the pieces, and I think we got the speed,” Rogers said. “Our inexperience bit us a bit, but overall, I was happy with the way our kids competed tonight.”
Glendale (0-3) hosts Pembroke Hill on Saturday then Carthage on Sept. 12.
Ozark (2-0) has road matches next week against Neosho (Sept. 10) and Springfield Catholic (Sept. 12).
“I don’t feel like we’ve had our best stuff either night so far,” Davidson said. “And that’s good, because we don’t want our best stuff now.”