By Kai Raymer (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
Ozark goalkeeper Mark Shtevnin just needed one more chance. Odds aside, he couldn’t accept another loss to Nixa.
“I knew I could save one or two (penalty kicks) and bring the (win) home, get us a victory,” Shtevnin said.
With Ozark trailing 2-0 in the penalty kick round, the improbable unfolded.
After yielding the first three Nixa PK attempts, Shtevnin got a stop. Then two more.
“The first few, I knew where they were going but I just didn’t have the right mentality yet,” Shtevnin said. “The last few, I was feeling more confident.”
In between – after two misses – one Ozark make became four straight makes.
Just like that, Ozark had pulled off an unforgettable win over a team – and archrival – it hadn’t beat in a decade.
“I have never in my 29 years (of coaching) been on that side of 0-2 (in penalty kicks) and come back to win,” said Ozark coach Tom Davidson. “It’s never happened to me. I was standing there thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, every time we’ve been down 2-0, we’ve gone on to lose.’”
Ozark defeated Nixa 3-2 (PKs) in a match that came down to the sixth (and sudden-victory) penalty kick round.
Dillon Holesapple converted the win-clinching PK for Ozark, thanks to a last-second switch.
“Typically, after the first five (the official) will ask you who your next five are,” Davidson said. “They never asked us. Seth Glossip was on his way to take it. Dillon was standing next to me and I told him, ‘You’re next.’ We had to yell at Seth to get back and send Dillon out there. I’m happy for him.”
Ozark (7-1 overall) hadn’t beat Nixa since 2009.
“This group of seniors, I wanted it so bad for them, to break this streak,” Davidson said. “We always play terrible on ‘Nixa Night’ and are always on the short end of the stick it seems like.”
The outcome had Davidson in tears for other reasons, too.
On the same date two years prior, Davidson’s father died.
By coincidence or fate, Davidson’s son, Troy, recorded the first of Ozark’s four consecutive PK makes.
“The whole night was emotional,” Tom Davidson said. “For Troy to be the one who gets us going, I can’t say enough about these kids.”
Ozark nearly closed out the win in regulation, but Nixa’s Cooper Hines scored the equalizer in the 72nd minute to force overtime.
In the 62nd minute, Eagles goalkeeper Nick Reid made the stop on a 1-v-1 breakaway to keep Nixa within 2-1.
The teams combined for three goals in the opening 11 minutes. Mason DeMoss (2’) and Wade Korns (11’) scored for Ozark on similar plays, each capitalizing on scrums around the net.
Korns’ goal came seconds after Nixa’s Andrew Anello had tied the match, 1-1.
Entering the night, Nixa had already recorded PK wins over both Kickapoo and Monett.
The Eagles (4-3 overall) also trounced Ozark at home, 5-2, in last season’s meeting.
“Last year was a disappointing loss,” Shtevnin said. “We just tried to ignore last year and focus all our attention on this game tonight. We gave it our all. I’m proud of all my teammates.”
Said Tom Davidson: “In the last 10 years up until last year, I always thought (Nixa) was better than us man for man. Last year, I thought we were so much better than them and they just pounded us. They killed us.”
Ozark hosts Kickapoo on Thursday. Nixa hosts Branson next Tuesday.