Ozark FC Draws Against St. Louis Club Athletico

Ozark FC earned the first point of the 2018 season Saturday afternoon with a solid 1-1 draw against St. Louis Club Atletico in Missouri. Local standout, Jose “Lalo” Castro, scored in the 44th minute to bring the game level, and the teams played out a scoreless second half that saw plenty of chances for both sides to win the game.

Atletico jumped out to an early lead at St. Mary’s High School after a 6th minute collision in front of the goal led to Chevaughn Walsh walking the ball into an empty net. As Ozark settled in to the game, they found success attacking the flanks, and created a series of scoring chances between the 15th and 30th minutes of the game. Matheus Alaves, Leonardo Borges, and Amilcar Gonzalez were especially active in the attack for Ozark, as each had opportunities to knot the score. As the game neared the break, Castro picked off the ball near midfield, and punished the Atletico error by burying the ball into the bottom corner of the goal from just outside of the penalty area.

A few defensive adjustments at halftime saw Ozark FC begin to smother the Atletico buildup, which led to a more direct approach for the home side. On three occasions in the second half, the direct ball worked, putting Atletico strikers through in 1v1 situations with Ozark goalkeeper Manuel Heredia. Heredia was up to the task in all three situations, snuffing out scoring attempts with aggressive play. 

In the 51st minute, Alaves turned the corner on the right flank and laid a ball across the goal to Gonzalez, who had the chance to score on an open goal, only to see the ball sail high of the crossbar. Ozark FC set up another golden scoring opportunity in the 70th minute, when Atletico goalkeeper, Ziggy Camejo, handled a back pass, leading to an indirect kick from 8 yards out. But an Atletico defender blocked the shot attempt by Santiago Vanegas to keep the score even. A free kick from 22 yards by Alaves in the 71st minute also sailed over the bar, and Camejo made stops on attempts from Castro, Alaves, Vanegas, and Borges to seal up the draw for St Louis.

Irvin Sosa and Vinicius Sanchez each made timely tackles for Ozark in the waning minutes of the game to prevent scoring opportunities for the home side.

“I am pleased with our progress over the past two weeks,” said Ozark FC head coach Scott Marksberry. “Our boys stayed organized tonight and created some very good chances. It is hard to win a game when you miss two open goals and free kick from 8 yards out, but we did the defensive work that we needed to do to get an away point.”

“We will regroup this week, and, hopefully, get a few guys back from injuries before our home opener. We are hoping to have a great crowd out at Veteran’s to support these boys.”

Ozark FC will play their home opener against the Demize NPSL out of Springfield, MO on Saturday, May 26 at 7pm at Veteran’s Park in Rogers. Admission is $5, and kids under the age of 12 get in free by wearing a soccer jersey or shirt.

Todd Carrigan