Clarksville, Ark.-The first half of the 2010 season for the men's soccer team hasn't quite been what head coach John Cossaboon envisioned as a result of a rash of injuries and unfortunate endings.
The Eagles are currently on a three-game skid and have suffered a number of injuries in recent matches. The last three matches have been particularly challenging, according to Cossaboon. One loss came in overtime and Saturday’s loss against Howard Payne came in the last minute of the match.
“Seasons are based on so many different things and obviously this is not the way we wanted or intended the first half of the year to go,” said Cossaboon. “Early on we wanted to test the boys against some talented teams to prepare for conference play, and I believe playing tough competition early is the only way to make a deep run in the playoffs or advance to the national tournament. I don’t want to talk about injuries as excuses, but rather as facts. Against McMurry we lost Guido Salas to a foot problem. Against Hardin-Simmons Scott Janders had his leg broken. In our last game one of our starters went down in pre-game.”
Saturday’s heart-breaking loss against Howard Payne put Ozarks at 3-7-0 overall and 2-4-0 in conference play. Ozarks has qualified for the last ten American Southwest Conference playoff tournaments.
Despite the circumstances, Cossaboon believes his team has showed resiliency and spirit.
“The boys have been working harder than ever in training,” said Cossaboon. "I felt the match against Hardin-Simmons really showed what we have in us. We played with a lot of emotion after Scott’s injury. Coming off the Hardin-Simmons game, I thought we were more prepared and more focused than I’ve seen us this year. Unfortunately, we performed poorly against Mary Hardin-Baylor. I think it was a combination of being emotionally drained and the fact that they were the better team that day. The day before the Howard Payne match, we had a two-hour meeting and talked about a lot of things. It wasn’t soft and sweet stuff, it was tough things we had to face in regard to our goals. We don’t want sympathy, but we have players that are being asked to do a lot without the experience at the college level. In Saturday’s match, we performed very well for 75 minutes. At the end we were worn down and made some key mistakes.”
The Eagles will be on the road this weekend when it travels to Schreiner University (4-3-2, 3-1-1 ASC) and Texas Lutheran University (4-5-0, 4-1-0 ASC).
“We want to find ways to beat quality opponents,” said Cossaboon. “We are not happy about our results, but as a group the boys are working together and adapting to game plans. They are accepting the situation and doing the best they can to continue in a positive way. We just have to do better down the stretch in clutch situations. It gives me pride to see them persevere in this tough situation.”