Ozark FC Earns First Win of 2019 NPSL Season

By Ozark FC

Ozark FC earned their first win of the 2019 National Premier Soccer League schedule Saturday
evening with a 2-1 win over in-state rivals Little Rock Rangers. Quinton Carey, in his first game
action of the season for Ozark FC, scored in the 90 th minute to seal the game for the home side.
Saturday’s match saw Ozark FC (1-2-1) employ a much different tactical approach than they
used in the season opener at War Memorial. The patient and disciplined defensive approach paid
off for the home side, as they frustrated the Rangers (2-2-0) into changing their style of play as
the game progressed.

“We learned a lot in our first game of the season,” stated Ozark FC head coach Scott
Marksberry. “We had four practices before that game in Little Rock, and we looked like a team
that was four practices into our season. But tonight, we knew what we wanted the game to look
like. We knew where we wanted them to play. We knew which players we wanted in specific
matchups around the field. And I thought our boys did a great job of making the game difficult
for them.”

While the Rangers carried the majority of possession, they did not spend much time in dangerous
areas of the field. Little Rock looked threatening on long throw-ins and set pieces, but created
very few chances in the run of play. However, the visitors broke through in the 45 th minute when
captain Nick Doyle rose above the mix to head home a corner kick and give his team the lead.
The second half saw a slightly different approach from both teams. Ozark played more direct to
attempt to open up the Little Rock press, and found Carey twice behind the visitors’ back line,
but he saw one shot blocked and his second carom off of the crossbar.

On the defensive side of the ball, Ozark continued to compact the middle third of the field, and
put virtually no pressure on the Little Rock center backs. But the Rangers pressed forward
anyway, and began forcing play through the middle to see if they could find the dagger. In a
repeat of the first half, Little Rock’s best chances came on set pieces, and a Donald Bennamna
header on a corner kick should have given the guests a two-goal lead in the 60 th minute, but he
put it wide of the goal.

Local product Jacob Zamarron looked dangerous for the home side a handful of times on the
night, and his near-miss at 72 minutes seemed to give his team a boost of energy. At the 76 th
minute, Ozark FC’s subs began to make their mark on the game, bringing some energy into the
attack. The renewed energy and defensive discipline paid off in the 81 st minute, as Ozark left
back Giovani Bejarano took a quick throw in to the feet second half substitute Goncalo
Verissimo on the left flank. Verissimo drove into space through the middle third and found
Zamarron on the run in the left channel. Zamarron cut inside of his defender, and bent a shot
from 22 yards that hit the far post on its way into the goal.

The game looked certain to end in a draw as it approached the final minutes, when the Rangers
earned a corner kick in the 89 th . Deciding to push numbers forward for the win, the visitors left the pacey Carey isolated at midfield with recent sub Hayden Tucker. Ozark goalkeeper Dean
Wilson easily fielded the corner kick, and lasered a 70-yard half-volley into the path of Carey
who blew past his defender at midfield and buried the ball into the bottom corner of the net to
give Ozark a lead with only added time to play.

This win, the first of the season for Ozark FC, also marks a two-game unbeaten run for boys
from Northwest Arkansas.

“We really appreciated the support of our fans tonight,” said Marksberry. “We wanted to give
them performances to be proud of tonight, and I thought we did that all over the field. Gio
(Bejarano), Leo (Borges), Luca (Crivellari), (Alex) Buckley- they were excellent in the back.
We knew we would absorb a lot pressure tonight, but those four never broke. And the guys who
entered the game in the second half came on to impact the game. That is a team-centric
mentality and will definitely serve us well as the season goes on.”

Ozark FC returns to the field next Saturday, June 8 at St Louis (0-2-1), who dropped a road
contest at Tulsa Athletic over the weekend. Ozark FC’s next home match will be June 15 at 7:30
pm when FC Wichita and local sensation Nelson Landaverde come to Springdale.

Photos Courtesy of Ozark FC

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