Saint Louis Club Atletico finished their last regular season game with a 2-1 victory over Ozark FC. Club Atletico finished their first season above .500 and totaled 16 points. The fourth place finish in the conference will now have them traveling to Wichita to take on the top seed in the Heartland Conference.
Atletico wasted little time getting on the scoreboard as Pandelis Popgeorgiev scored a goal after a pass from Eric Lopez in the second minute. Lopez dribbled by three Ozark defenders and passed to Popgeorgiev, whose shot took a slight deflection off an Ozark defender and went over goalkeeper Adam Holt’s head. That was Popgeorgiev’s second goal of the season and ironically, his other goal was also scored in the first couple of minutes in a game versus Tulsa.
For the first 30 minutes of the game Saint Louis club Atletico dominated possession and had several great scoring chances, all coming from wide play. The first chance in the 17th minute when Nick Werner went flying down the line and crossed a ball into Popgeorgiev, whose shot went just wide of the goal. Just five minutes later Allando Brown came down the left side, beat two Ozark players and fed Chevaughn Walsh. Walsh’s shot hit the inside of the post and bounced out.
In typical soccer fashion, after one team dominates play but can’t score, it seems like the opponent gets a goal and gains momentum in the game. That’s exactly what happened in the 30th minute when Ozark’s Matheus Alves stole a ball from an Atletico defender and went in alone on goal and scored against Atletico’s Codie Lynd. Now with the score tied 1-1, Ozark had more pep in their step and limited Atletico’s chances. In fact, Atletico’s only other chance came right at the end of the first half when Walsh beat three Ozark defenders and had another shot ring off the post.
As the second half started, Atletico knew Ozark FC did not have an answer for Walsh, who leads Atletico in scoring with five goals while only appearing in six games. He was named Man of the Match, creating countless scoring chances including setting up the winning goal in the 50th minute. Walsh got by four Ozark defenders and dribbled to the end line where he found Eric Lopez in front of the goal for his fourth goal of the season.
Atletico tried to put the game out of reach several times. The best chance came when Ado Jahric crossed the ball to Walsh. His header was robbed by a spectacular diving save from the Ozark keeper. The Atletico defense held strong to finish out the victory despite being extremely short on subs due to a large rash of injuries.
Club Atletico will travel to Wichita on Wednesday in the first round of the playoffs. That winner will play the winner of Little Rock Rangers/Tulsa Athletic winner on Saturday. The home team will be the site of the higher seed from those two remaining teams.
Contributor: Saint Louis Club Atletico
Photo Credit: Saint Louis Club Atletico