By Kai Raymer (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
In a season that’s already crazy, things got even crazier for the Kickapoo Chiefs on Wednesday night.
Kickapoo rallied from a three-goal deficit to stun 10-man Glendale 5-4 in overtime in the annual Southside Showdown rivalry game.
Just two weeks ago, Kickapoo had its season put on hold due to a COVID-19 exposure.
“What a season it’s been,” said Chiefs coach Phil Hodge.
The Chiefs, aided by a Glendale red card in the final minute of the first half, scored three second-half goals to force overtime.
Sophomore Corbin Clay sparked the rally with a pair of goals in the first 15 minutes of the second half to bring Kickapoo within 4-3.
Chiefs sophomore Landon Keisker netted the equalizer on a penalty kick with 26 seconds remaining in regulation.
Then, in the 89th minute, the Chiefs found senior forward Landon Howard on a through ball. He converted.
“I just put it in and finished the game,” Howard said. “Nerves on the line, game on the line, fans cheering for me. It was a great experience.”
Hodge described it as a “composed” goal and said there may be no player on the Chiefs more deserving.
“I’m so happy for him,” Hodge said of Howard. “He’s waited his turn, being a JV kid for three years and now he gets his chance on varsity his senior year.”
Clay finished with a hat trick; he scored Kickapoo’s lone first-half goal in the 26th minute when Glendale led 2-0.
“I’m at a loss for words,” Clay said of the comeback.
In the first 40 minutes, Glendale threatened to blowout the Chiefs. The Falcons had first-half goals from Jack Gintz (PK), Cooper Buzbee, Aaron Baldwin and Jonathan De Alba.
“We kind of called (our players) out a little bit at halftime,” Hodge said. “You have to give credit to Glendale, but we called our guys out, too. We knew we could do more. We knew we could play better.”
The match swung in the final minute of the first half when Glendale’s starting goalkeeper was issued a red card after colliding with a Kickapoo attacker in the box.
Glendale’s backup goalkeeper, Cole Vincel, stopped the ensuing penalty kick to preserve Glendale’s 4-1 lead.
Hodge said the Chiefs started to “settle down” in the second half.
“You’re down three goals. You have nothing to lose at that point,” Hodge said.
Said Clay: “It wasn’t acceptable being down 4-1. We all knew it. We gave it 120% percent and came back.”
Clay brought Kickapoo within 4-3 in the 51st minute when he scored his third goal of the match.
“That was huge,” Hodge said of the early second-half goals.
Glendale, playing a man down, withstood Kickapoo’s onslaught until the final minute, when the Falcons were called for a foul in the box that led to the PK.
The Chiefs improved to 8-2 overall.
After being off since Sept. 20, Kickapoo returned to competition last Thursday. The Chiefs won their own tournament by beating Nixa, Glendale and Springfield Catholic over three days.
Kickapoo had its season put on hold after beating Branson 2-1 on Sept. 19.
“It was frustrating, because we were starting to figure out who we were as a team,” Hodge said. “We had four guys out against Ozark (on Sept. 17), and that was our last loss. We just took two weeks off, reset and here we are now.”
Howard said despite the uncertainty of a season, players did their best to train while on break.
“As much as we could, we just went out individually and tried to stay in shape,” Harrison said. “We thought, maybe, that we wouldn’t have a season at all.”
Kickapoo plays at Waynesville next Tuesday.
Glendale (8-4 overall) returns to action on Monday when it hosts Nixa.
Kickapoo 5, Glendale 4 (OT)
Kickapoo 1 3 1 — 5
Glendale 4 0 0 — 4
Glendale (16’) – Gintz (PK)
Glendale (18’) – Buzbee (Balanean assist)
Kickapoo (26’) – Clay
Glendale (32’) – Baldwin
Glendale (38’) – De Alba (Buzbee assist)
Kickapoo (44’) – Clay
Kickapoo (51’) – Clay
Kickapoo (80’) – Keisker (PK)
Kickapoo (89’) – Howard