The Rolla soccer team (14-3, 5-1 OC) hosted Glendale for an Ozark Conference matchup on Wednesday, Oct. 4. While it wasn't the final Ozark Conference game of the season, this game was basically the conference championship. Rolla had to fight through some bumps, bruises and a lot of rain to force overtime, but they ran out of steam in a 2-1 loss.
Glendale, the state's second ranked Class 3 team, was aggressive all night long. While the whistle started to blow and the cards came out as the game went on, the whistle was quiet and the cards stayed in his pocket when they needed to come out the most. Roughly 12 minutes into the game, Drew Blair jumped to make a save and, as he came down to land, Ryan Feeney ran into him, took out his legs and Blair smashed to the ground. No call was made on the play. Blair was forced to the sideline so he could be checked for a concussion and Glendale ramped up their offense with the senior captain on the bench.
Josiah Homan came in to replace Blair in goal and he played rather well. He turned away a few scoring opportunities, but Garrett Freeman redirected the ball with a header that Homan couldn't have gotten to in the 18th minute. Blair returned to the game a couple of minutes later, but Rolla still had to find their way out of a 1-0 deficit.
The Bulldogs got the break they needed as the first half expired. After receiving several warnings for hooking Rolla players and grabbing jerseys, Grant Compere was given a yellow card. As he found his way to the sideline, he mouthed off the official and was given a second yellow card. Those cards combine for a red and Compere was ejected from the game. The biggest benefit for Rolla, was the fact that Glendale was forced to play with 10 players for the remainder of the game. Rolla couldn't score before the half, as the cards came in the final minute, but the scoring opportunities opened up in the second half.
Rolla had their first chance to score just two minutes into the half when Jayson Ross skipped a pass across the pitch, finding Evan Moore right next to the far post. Moore got a foot on the ball, but couldn't get enough on the shot and Glendale keeper Gabe Patterson made the save. The goal finally came in the 51st minute. Adeeb Messri dumped a pass upfield to Ross, where the senior forward worked his way around a couple of defenders to get off a shot. That shot floated high and dropped right over the hands of Patterson and under the crossbar to tie the game at one.
Glendale was carded again a couple of minutes later when Ryan Long cursed near an official, but he learned from Compere and didn't make things worse. Rolla continued to forge ahead with offensive runs as the half continued, but they weren't able to convert. Jarret Gabriele had his best scoring chance in the 63th minute, but Patterson made the save on the damp pitch. Moore had the next big chance to get the win in regulation, but his header off the foot of Gabe Stanislawski was just a bit too high in the 72nd minute.
"We played well, we gave ourselves a chance to win. We had several great opportunities in the second half," said head coach Mike Howard. "You've gotta finish those against good teams like that. If you let them hang around, this is what happens."
What happened was a rough overtime period for the Bulldogs. Regulation ended in a tie at one, but the game didn't carry long into overtime. Glendale controlled the pace of the game in overtime. Rolla made a few unnecessary fouls and hardly touched the ball in the overtime period. Glendale worked the ball into the Rolla zone and had a throw in deep in Rolla territory four minutes into the overtime. Glendalee made a long throw into the heart of the keeper zone and the initial shot was deflected, but Mitch Stephens knocked in a second chance to win the game for Glendale.
"Give Glendale all the credit in the world, they came out in overtime and we didn't touch the ball," said coach Howard. "In the overtime, we just committed three or four silly fouls and couldn't get the ball out of our end."
While the field was soaking wet, as were the players, coach Howard wasn't going to make any excuses.
"I don't know. We've played so many games on turf," said coach Howard of the game's conditions. "They're just a good team...when you get the quality chances that we did, you have to finish those. You can't not finish those and expect to win."
Hopefully this won't be the last time Rolla sees Glendale this season. If Rolla makes it through their District, they'll meet up with Glendale in Sectionals. Coach Howard wants his team to learn from this game if they do indeed face off again later this season.
"Every game we want to learn for obviously, that's why we play the schedule we do," said coach Howard. "It's just disappointing because you have the opportunity to win a conference championship and you're that close to it...hopefully we'll make a postseason run and see them again."
Rolla followed the loss with an early game against Springfield Central, which was moved up in the day so they could play on the football field. Even with the earlier start time, results were not available at press time. Next up for the Bulldogs is a trip to Pacific on Saturday, Oct. 7.