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Eagles To Face Mississippi College In Playoffs

November 2, 2009
By cnp
Posted in Athletics

Clarksville, Ark.- The men's soccer team will enter the American Southwest Conference Championship Tournament as the No. 3 seed in Belton, Texas, and play Mississippi College (12-4-3, 7-3-3) Friday at 2:00 p.m.

University of Mary Hardin-Baylor will host the six-team tournament held November 6-8 at the Cru Sports Plex. The winner of the Ozarks-Mississippi College match will advance to play Hardin-Simmons on Saturday at 2:00 p.m.

It is the second straight season the two teams have faced off in the first round of the tournament and the third straight season the two teams have met in the playoffs. On September 24, the Choctaws put up a dominating 5-1 win over Ozarks. Michael Cooper leads Mississippi College with 20 goals. Cooper is followed by Barry Prather, who has 8 goals.

“Michael Cooper was just lights out and he caught us by surprise,” said Cossaboon. “We will be set for the team and for him. I look back at that match and see it as a low point, and a turn-around point for our team. We could have buckled after that match, but instead we turned it around. That was a game we needed at the time. This game is what we need now.”

Ozarks comes into the match with a 12-4-2 overall record and a 8-3-2 ASC mark. It is the tenth straight season the program has qualified for ASC post-season play. The ASC tournament winner receives an automatic bid to the NCAA III tournament.

Senior midfielder Brandon VanCleave is the team’s leading scorer (6 goals, 9 assists). Six other players have at least four goals this season: Scott Janders (9), Dylan Evans (7), Francisco Garza (7), Philip Johnson (7), Guido Salas (4) and Tanner Holman (4). Goalkeeper Neil Thompson has three shutouts to his credit.

“To win the tournament we have to go with what got us here and pressurize and be intense in all areas of the field,” said Cossaboon. “If we give other teams an opportunity to use their weapons that puts us at a disadvantage. We also have to do things different ways. Opponents get used to a certain type of attack. Our guys have to make great decisions on the spot and do it quickly and do what we can to break down the opponent’s defense. Some of these teams are defensive-minded and they are hard to get through. We have to play creative soccer.”

The 2009 ASC season proved to be another down to the wire race, as five of the seedings came down to the last weekend of play.

“I saw both UT-Dallas and UT-Tyler and those were very, very good teams,” said Cossaboon. “It is amazing that those teams were left out and to see the strength of the teams that are in.”

ASC Tournament
Friday, November 6
Game 1: [4] Schreiner (8-6-3) vs. [5] Howard Payne (9-7-1), 11 a.m.
Game 2: [3] Ozarks (12-4-2) vs. [6] Mississippi College (12-4-3), 2 p.m.

Saturday, November 7
Game 3: [1] Mary Hardin-Baylor (13-3) vs. Winner Game 1, 11 a.m.
Game 4: [2] Hardin-Simmons (9-2-5) vs. Winner Game 2, 2 p.m.

Sunday, November 8
Game 5: Winner Game 3 vs. Winner Game 4, 1 p.m.