SPRINGFIELD, Mo.— An inspired second half led the Demize NPSL soccer team to a 4-0 victory over Ozark FC in Heartland Conference action on Thursday night at Lake Country Soccer Complex.
The Demize were clinging to a 1-0 lead at intermission, but the hosts knocked in three unanswered goals in a dominating second half to earn a convincing win.
“We had the opportunities in the first half, but we finally broke through in the second half,” Demize NPSL director of soccer operations and head coach Chris Hanlon said. “We didn’t capitalize in the first half, but I think our depth had an effect in the second half. We had 18 guys play tonight so the guys could stay fresh. I’m pleased. It was a needed win.”
The Demize improved to 2-3-1 on the season, while Ozark FC slipped to 0-7.
Asked about his team’s improved play after the break, Demize forward George Redwin said it was simple.
“Coach Hanlon spoke to us at halftime and told us to liven up a bit,” said Redwin, a native of Canvey Island, England, who plays at Faulkner University in Alabama. “We just needed to be better in front of the goal. It was a must win for us. We needed to close the gap on Dallas (3-2-1), so it was a really good win for us.”
The league clash was still scoreless in the 33rd minute when Demize forward Aboubkar Diallo was taken down in front of the box by Ozark goalkeeper Adam Holt, resulting in a whistle.
Midfielder Craig Barker knocked in the ensuing penalty kick past a diving Holt to get the Demize on the board.
Despite multiple scoring chances, the Demize held just a one-goal lead at halftime.
“We didn’t finish our chances,” Hanlon said. “We probably left five or six goals on the table tonight. You’ve got to finish or teams in this conference will make you pay.”
Looking more energetic and fired-up, the Demize took control of the match just minutes into the second half by dominating possession.
After a corner kick, Demize center back Ian Sagstetter went up with a group of players and ended up scoring by ricocheting the ball into the goal off his chest in the 50th minute.
“He didn’t head it, he kind of chested it in,” Hanlon noted. “It was a cool goal.”
Racing down the left side of the field, Redwin dodged a defender and beat the Ozark keeper 1-on-1 in the 56th minute to give the Demize a 3-0 lead.
The final tally of the match came in the 62nd minute when Demize midfielder Charlie Hackshall scored an empty-net goal after getting past a diving Holt.
Demize goalkeeper Sullivan Lauderdale earned a clean sheet, making six saves.
The league’s newest franchise, Arkansas-based Ozark FC had very few scoring opportunities in the second half.
Hanlon noted if there would happen to be a tie for the final playoff spot, goal differential is used to determine who gets in.
“We wanted to score as many goals as possible and it was important for us to not give up any goals tonight,” Hanlon said.
The Demize will play at FC Wichita at 7 p.m. on Saturday at Stryker Soccer Complex.
“They’re the No. 1 team in the conference,” Hanlon said. “They’re undefeated. They can play and they’ll have 1,000 to 2,000 people there to watch them play.”