By Kai Raymer (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
Let’s recap a wild season with our final boys’ soccer power rankings of 2019.
Dominance by Class, strength of schedule and recent success factor into the rankings.
NOTE: These rankings are based on dominance by class and ARE NOT STRICTLY A HEAD-TO-HEAD RANKING.
1. Catholic (14-3 overall, Class 2) – Amid all the chaos in the local soccer scene this fall, the Irish have been a welcomed source of consistency. The Irish have yet to lose against a non-Class 4 school and are currently riding a five-game winning streak heading into the final week of the regular season. Paced by senior standout Trey Garoutte, Catholic’s efficient on offense – the Irish have scored at least two goals in all but four matches. If it can advance through districts and make a run in the state playoffs, Catholic could finish with its best winning percentage since 2012 (87.1%), when the Irish won the Class 1 state championship.
2. Ozark (20-2 overall, Class 4) – The Tigers are riding high amid the best two-year run in program history. With a win over West Plains last week, the Tigers reached the 20-win mark for the second straight season. Ozark cracked the Top 10 of the Class 4 state coaches’ poll last week, which is a rare achievement for our local teams but one the Tigers have earned. Getting out of a district that includes Republic, Nixa and a much-improved Branson team won’t be easy, but Ozark’s playing like it wants to make a run at state and send its most accomplished senior class out on top.
3. Greenwood (12-3 overall, Class 1) – Surprise teams emerge each season, and no one’s been more of a surprise than the surging Blue Jays. Greenwood has won eight straight and hasn’t lost in over a month. Led by the likes of Josh Henry (midfield), Hugh McWay (midfield) and Zach Bailey (midfield/forward), the Blue Jays have established themselves as a contender. Greenwood cracked the top 5 of the Class 1 state coaches’ poll last week. One of its three losses came to the No. 3 team in that poll, Sacred Heart (2-1). To make it back to the final four for the second time in four years, Greenwood will likely have to beat a tough New Covenant team for the second time this season.
4. Monett (13-10 overall, Class 2) – Fair warning: The No. 4-10 spots in our rankings are very fluid and have proven to change day-by-day, week-by-week and matchup-to-matchup. The Cubs have hung tough amid a brutal schedule that’s included 19 games against Class 3-4 schools. Monett’s picked up some quality wins recently: Logan-Rogersville (4-3) and Carthage (2-1). Monett’s Jony Perez recorded a hat trick against Logan-Rogersville, a team the Cubs will likely face for a district championship in two weeks. Monett owns one of the longest district title streaks in the state: seven straight dating back to 2012.
5. New Covenant (12-6-2, Class 1) – It’s been a somewhat tough month for the Warriors, who have only played six matches since Oct. 1. NCA’s lost to Greenwood, Central and Logan-Rogersville in that time, all of which are teams who are capable of winning their respective district tournaments. NCA will seek a fresh start in districts starting Nov. 5. The Warriors are on pace for their best back-to-back seasons since they won 37 combined games from 2007-08.
6. Rolla (15-6-1 overall, Class 3) – It’s been a weird season in the Ozark Conference. Take Rolla, for instance, which has 15 wins but also conference losses to teams it typically beats (West Plains, Central). The Central loss snapped Rolla’s eight-game unbeaten streak. The Class 3 district/playoff bracket is much more favorable than Class 4. Rolla’s district features a 14-loss Washington team as the No. 1 seed, thanks in part to Washington’s 3-2 win over Rolla in mid-September. Rolla’s won three straight district titles.
7. Glendale (9-10 overall, Class 3) – The Falcons are another tough team to figure out in this Stranger Things version of the Ozark Conference. Their only conference loss came at Rolla (3-2) on Sept. 30. Overall, seven of the Falcons’ 10 losses have come by one goal, so you figure a change of luck may be due soon. On a good note, Grant Compere has been the ultimate playmaker. The shifty midfielder leads the Falcons with 18 assists. He has a slight chance to run down Sean Perryman’s single-season program record for assists (25) set in 2016. With a win at Parkview on Oct. 30, Glendale can clinch its fourth straight conference title and 16th overall.
8. Logan-Rogersville (13-7 overall, Class 2) – Don’t overlook the Wildcats as a darkhorse in the Class 2 playoff picture. LR has one-goal losses to both Springfield Catholic and Monett and is tough to play at home. The Wildcats are seeking an elusive district title, which would be a nice way to top off the best-four year run in program history.
9. Nixa (11-7 overall, Class 4) – The Eagles have been much more consistent than their overall record might indicate. They have four one-goal losses and all but beat Ozark in PKs back in mid-September. Nixa also has quality wins against the likes of Catholic, Sedalia Smith-Cotton and Branson. The Eagles will have a tough road in districts with a first-round match against Branson and, should it win, a likely title-game match against Ozark. Their prior performances against those two teams offers hope, though.
10. Branson (16-4 overall, Class 4) – If Greenwood isn’t the surprise team locally this year, then it’s definitely Branson. The Pirates have taken a significant step up this year, including beating Kickapoo for the first time ever and playing Nixa and Ozark to competitive losses. Senior Kyle Sutton, who set the program scoring record earlier this season, paces the Pirates with 35 goals and 14 assists. Chris Abarca’s added nine assists, while Garrett Whicker has anchored the defense. The Pirates have reached the 15-win mark for the third straight season, but they have bigger aspirations. A district victory or two would be a nice, crowning achievement for one of the most successful senior classes in program history.
Knocking on the door: Laquey (12-11 overall, Class 1), Webb City (15- 8 overall, Class 3), Neosho (12-6 overall, Class 3) Carthage (12-7 overall, Class 4), Central (11-6 overall, Class 4)