Clarksville, Ark.-The Eagles final conference match of the season has turned out to be the most important one.
Ozarks (10-6-1, 8-4-1) will travel to Sherman, Texas, to face conference rival Austin College (9-7-1, 7-5-1) this Friday, with the winner advancing to the American Southwest Conference tournament held next week on the campus of University of Texas-Dallas. Friday’s match begins at 1 p.m. The Eagles have been a staple in post-season play, having been there the last three seasons, and advancing to the conference finals in two of those seasons. Despite the big-game experience and post-season success, head coach Dave De Hart is expecting a difficult challenge with his young squad. "I expect this game to be a very tough and emotional match," said De Hart. "I think the key for us is to score on our opportunities we create. We also need to stay focused and eliminate any defensive mistakes. We are a very young team, but we will be ready for Friday’s match." Both the Eagles and Kangaroos have played especially well in the latter part of the season. The Eagles have won eight of their last ten matches and the Kangaroos have won seven matches in their last ten tries. The Eagles had an eight-game win streak broke with a 1-0 loss to UT-Tyler on October 24. Austin helped their post-season cause by upsetting UT-Dallas over the weekend. Offensively, the Eagles have four players who have scored five or more goals this season. Ron Hogsett leads the team with ten goals, followed by Ricky Herrera with seven goals. Will Brahic and Jared Gordon each have five goals. Ozarks is averaging 2.15 goals per game and holding their opponents to a 1.28 goals per game average. Austin College has averaged 2.38 goals per game this season while holding their opponents to a 1.63 per game goal average. Defensively, the Eagles have recorded six shutouts this season behind the steady defensive play of defenders Lars Nyberg and C.J. Smith and goalkeeper Chris Schultz. Each has earned defensive player of the week honors this season.