Ozark, Mo. (For OzarksSportsZone.com) -- The Willard Tigers went on an offensive barrage in the second half to defeat Ozark 7-2 on Tuesday night.
For Willard coach Tim Magee, it was an impressive win that got the “monkey” off his team’s back.
“We hadn’t beaten Ozark in five years,” Magee said. “So it’s just that, being a COC foe, it’s a big game in that sense…and they’ve always beaten us in usually close games. They’ve always been just a little bit better than we have been, so it was good to get a win against a quality team.”
The Willard players seemed to understand how important the game was for their coach and program, as they came out strong to start the game by pushing the ball and being aggressive. In the 33rd minute, they scored their first goal when Cooper Dunn won a loose ball and drove around defenders before scooting it past Ozark goalie Hunter Earnest .
Ozark attempted to respond by moving the ball down field, but they could never seem to make the extra pass for a shot. Willard’s defense packed the goal box, making it even harder for the Ozark Tigers offense to get a clear shot.
But Willard’s offensive push was too much for the Ozark defenders, as Dunn had no problem getting past them to score his second goal of the night in the 21st minute with an assist from Cameryn Jones.
While the Ozark defense looked sloppy and sluggish, it’s offense didn’t give up and continued to press. After a hand ball was called in the 17th minute near the 15 yard line on the field, Alex Bauer took a pass on a set play from Mason Shelor and caught Willard defenders off guard with a 25-yard shot to put Ozark on the board.
With less than 2 minutes remaining in the half, Willard pushed its lead back to two after Derrick Mills took a pass from Nate Terry and beat his defenders to score from 10 yards out, getting it past Earnest just outside the box.
In the second half, it was Ozark that came out roaring, pulling within one after Sam Gunnels headed in a pass from Bailey Williams.
However, errors and mental mistakes ended up keeping Ozark from getting ahead on their league foe, as Ozark’s sophomore TJ Shelton, who came off the bench for Earnest, mishandled a kick in the penalty box, allowing Mills to easily foot the ball in to go up 4-2.
From there, the Ozark Tigers lost their momentum. Dunn scored his third goal of the night with another assist from Terry to go up 5-2 after an Ozark defender missed a pass in front of the goal. Then Mills got his second goal off a deflected kick in the goalie box. Less than one minute later, Clayton Carter scored the Tigers’ 7th goal on yet another deflection off a defender.
Ozark coach Tom Davidson said he was disappointed with his team’s effort in the last 20 minutes of the second half.
“When they got the fourth goal, from the mistake of my goalkeeper, instead of fighting back, we just kind of gave after that,” he said, adding Shelton’s entrance for Earnest was nothing more than the coach wanting to see his backup goalie get more playing time.
“This game – I tell the kids all the time – it’s 80 percent (hustle) and about 20 percent what you can do with the ball,” Davidson said. “They just beat us all over the field.”
With the loss, Ozark drops 3-3, while Willard pulls to 2-2 on the early season.
Willard has the week off and will return to action Sept. 24 when they host Republic for another league matchup.
Ozark will have to regroup by Thursday when Kickapoo visits Tiger Stadium.
Willard 3-4 – 7
Ozark 1-1 – 2
Willard – Cooper Dunn (unassisted)
Willard – Dunn (assist by Cameryn Jones)
Willard – Derrick Mills (assist by Nate Terry)
Ozark – Alex Bauer (assist by Mason Shelor)
Ozark – Sam Gunnels (assist by Bailey Williams)
Willard – Mills (unassisted)
Willard – Dunn (assisted by Terry)
Willard – Mills (unassisted)
Willard – Clayton Carter (unassisted)
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