By Kai Raymer (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
Every two weeks, Ozarks Sports Zone will release its boys’ soccer power rankings.
Rankings are based on dominance by Class, not head-to-head matchups. Strength of schedule and recent success are also factors.
- New Covenant Academy (6-0-1 overall, Class 1) – The Warriors have been as-advertised. They’ve started the season with two tournament titles (Cassville Classic, Warrior Classic) and posted three shutouts – a good sign for the defense. Dake Winslow has paced the Warriors with seven goals thus far. The shifty midfielder is a threat any time he touches the ball and can finish with either foot. Ethan Davis has provided additional support with three goals. NCA visits Laquey on Tuesday in a potential Class 1 state quarterfinal preview.
- Ozark (6-1, Class 4) – The Tigers have tallied 17 goals over their first seven games, including wins over Springfield Catholic and Glendale. Overall, Ozark has the best array of scoring options among our area teams. The lone blemish is a 2-0 loss to a 9-1 overall Rock Bridge team that also holds wins over Nixa and Kickapoo. Ozark faces both of those latter schools – Nixa and Kickapoo – this week. District seeds are at stake. The Tigers will be looking to avenge an ugly 5-2 loss to Nixa from last season.
- Monett (3-5, Class 2) – The Cubs don’t shy away from tough competition. They’ve dropped recent matches to several Class 4 schools, including a PK loss last Thursday at Nixa. In the end, those outcomes won’t have any bearing on the Cubs’ postseason aspirations, and they’ll be better in the long run for playing such competition. Monett, despite playing a man down for the majority of the match, put up four goals in a 6-4 loss at Branson on Sept. 7 – a sign the Cubs’ attack is still potent. Monett has a chance to bounce back in its next few games before it travels to Springfield Catholic on Sept. 26. Because of the talent and tradition on both sides, the Catholic-Monett game has become, arguably, the best annual matchup in the area.
- Catholic (2-1, Class 2) – The Irish have played the fewest games of teams in our Top 10, so we’re still waiting to get a better outlook on them. Catholic’s gotten off to a 2-1 start, including a 3-0 win over a good Branson team. The Irish also lost 4-1 at home to Ozark. The Sept. 17 match at Logan-Rogersville begins a stretch of four games in eight days for the Irish.
- Logan-Rogersville (Class 2, 4-0) – The Wildcats have taken care of business thus far. A 2-1 win over a decent Class 4 team in Springfield Central highlights the 4-0 start. Logan-Rogersville’s defense, its strength over the past few years, has been a pleasant surprise. The Wildcats have yielded only two total goals in four matches. On the other end, LR’s scored at least two goals in every match. The Wildcats face Springfield Catholic on their home grass this Tuesday in what should be a very spirited match.
- Nixa (4-2 overall, Class 4) – The Eagles may be young, but they don’t seem to wilt in crunch-time situations. Nixa picked up its second PK win of the season last week, edging Monett at home. Eagles goalkeeper Nick Reid has anchored the defense with superb play in the net. Nixa has scored and played competitively in all six matches, a good sign for a team that should get better with experience.
- Rolla (Class 3, 2-2 overall) – The Bulldogs took a couple of tough losses at the Pacific Tournament last weekend, falling to Eureka (3-1) and Washington (3-2 in OT). Rolla twice battled back from one-goal deficits against Washington before falling in OT. This week marks a busy stretch where Rolla will have its depth and stamina tested. The Bulldogs play five games between Sept. 17 and Sept. 21 – including three games at the Rolla Invitational this weekend. A Sept. 18 match at Jefferson City will tell a little more about where Rolla stands among other area teams. The Jays lost to Carthage, beat Glendale and won easily over Parkview and Camdenton.
- Kickapoo (2-3, Class 4) – The Chiefs christened their newly remodeled field on Sept. 5, but Nixa spoiled the fun with a 2-1 (PKs) victory. Kickapoo’s had slow starts before – in 2017 the Chiefs started 2-3 and made the final four; in 2018 they started 4-4. A lot of that has to do with the Chiefs’ typically stacked non-conference schedule. We haven’t seen the best from Kickapoo yet.
- Glendale (1-5, Class 3) – The Falcons are going through some growing pains, but no team in the area has played a tougher schedule. And eventually, Glendale’s luck is going to change. The Falcons have had three one-goal losses already: Ozark, Carthage and Jefferson City. Glendale’s extremely young with seven sophomore starters in the field and a freshman at goalkeeper. Coach Jeff Rogers has put his young squad to the test right away. The 1-5 record is a bit ugly, but never count out the Falcons.
- Carthage (4-1, Class 4) – So much for taking a step back. Reading Carthage’s season preview, you had to be concerned with the rash of offseason injuries the Tigers faced. But a young sophomore group has adapted to varsity competition well. After a season-opening loss to Branson, the Tigers responded with four straight wins – including a 2-1 win over their former Class 3 postseason rival, Glendale. Carthage returned only three starters from last year’s team, but this year’s group appears capable of winning the program’s first district title since 2016. Carthage gets the nod over Branson for the final spot in our Top 10 due to a better strength of schedule over the first two weeks.
Knocking on the door: Laquey (Class 1), Neosho (Class 3), Branson (Class 4)