Clarksville, Ark.-Sophomore midfielder Brandon VanCleave made his first and only shot of the match the most important as he netted the game-winner in the 99th minute to help Ozarks past Hardin-Simmons University 1-0 on Saturday.
The Eagles improve to 11-2-0 overall and 6-1-0 in American Southwest Conference play, while the Cowboys drop to 5-5-1 overall and 5-2-1 in the ASC. It was Ozarks seventh straight home victory of the season. The Eagles have now strung together 14 consecutive home wins since earning a 4-1 win over Louisiana College on September 29, 2006 .
Neither team was able to get many quality shots in the first half, but both teams had improved opportunities in second half play. Ozarks, however, did outshoot the visitors 8-3 in the first 45 minutes of play. Ozarks goalkeeper Brian Sarber batted away a pair of Jorge Verga shots late in the second half to set up the overtime match. Prior to Sarber’s strong plays in goal, Shaun Renfo had a clean shot at the goal in the 77th minute that was blocked by a Cowboy defender.
Eight minutes into overtime, Nate Abbott created space in the midfield and found a sprinting Matt Engelman open from any Cowboy defender. Engelman then sent a perfect pass to VanCleave who dribbled and sent a left-footed shot from 10 yards out past Cowboy keeper Justin Shepherd. It was the Collierville, Tenn., native’s second game-winning goal of the season.
Ozarks outshot Hardin-Simmons 3-0 in overtime and 14-7 in the match. Engelman had a team-best three shots. Sarber ended the thriller with four saves. He notched his fifth shutout of the season.
The Eagles will host Rogers State University on October 9 at 3:00 p.m. in a non-conference contest. Ozarks will travel to Belton, Texas, to face University of Mary Hardin-Baylor on October 12 in ASC play. The Eagles will then go to Brownwood, Texas, to face Howard Payne University on October 13.