Clarksville, Ark.-The Eagles are the 2007 American Southwest Conference season champions and earned the right to host the six-team men's soccer ASC Championship Tournament after a 2-0 win over East Texas Baptist University on Saturday night in Marshall, Texas.
As season champions, the Eagles (16-4-0, 11-2-0) will receive the No.1 seed, thus earning a first-round bye, and play the winner of the Mississippi College/Hardin-Simmons match on Saturday at 11:00 a.m. The championship tournament will held be November 2-4 at Hurie Field.
“I am proud of our guys,” said head coach Dave De Hart. “This is a boost for the program. This is one of the program’s biggest accomplishments. I am proud this group has came together and progressively gotten better as the season has went on. We have been consistent all year.”
“We put a very strong defense on the field, and anytime you put a good defense on the field, you will always remain in matches,” said De Hart. “Our team defense has given us a chance to win every single match. We’ve worked really hard all year on that. And it starts with our goalkeeper.”
Against East Texas Baptist, Shaun Renfro scored in the first half (19th minute) and Brandon VanCleave added another in the second half (54th) to secure the win. Ozarks totaled 22 shots, while holding the Tigers to only four. The win knocked the Tigers out of the playoffs.
Under De Hart, the Eagles are making their league-record eighth straight playoff appearance. Ozarks last hosted the championship tournament in 2001, where they reached the finals. Ozarks won the ASC East Division that year with a 8-1-1 league mark. De Hart has led Ozarks to the finals in three of their eight trips. The Eagles nearly hosted the tournament last season, but lost a head-to-head battle with Schreiner University, thus giving the Mountaineers the right to host. Ozarks won the tournament title in 2003.
“Any of the six teams can win this tournament,” said De Hart. “Often times, it is the team that gets hot or the team that is the hottest. I hope our home field advantage will be a plus for us. That is one of the rewards of winning the season championship. We have been strong at home, and I think if we get a real big crowd out there, we will be hard to beat on our home field.”
No. 2-seeded UT-Dallas (13-3-2, 10-1-2) will also receive a first-round bye.