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Ozark 'keeper Soloman calls out Nixa's bluffs to allow Lady Tigers to hold onto Cup


As much confidence as Alexis Soloman has in her Ozark teammates, the senior goalkeeper didn’t exactly feel safe and secure on their shoulders Tuesday.

The Lady Tigers hoisted Soloman up above them during their celebration of a 3-1 penalty-kicks shootout victory versus Nixa.

“I didn’t know what was going on. I thought they were going to drop me,” Soloman said.

The incredible ‘Senior Moment’ for Soloman was complete by holding a tight grip on the Christian County Cup as she lifted it for all to see.

“We were not going to give up that Cup,” she said.

The combination of a trio of spectacular saves by Soloman and goals by Chloe Kondracki, Natalie Morgan and Annabelle Shuler assured Ozark of holding onto the Cup for a second straight year.

Soloman went to her left and to her right to deflect or catch Nixa shots.

"I don't think I've ever saved that many PKs. It gave me so much more confidence. I felt like I was going to save all of them,” she said. "I was thinking about the last time we lost in PKs to Rock Bridge (a 4-2 Lady Tigers loss last month) where I only saved one and how I was not going to do that again.

“I would rather not go into PKs,” she added. “But once I'm in it, I'm in a zone and like that we're there. But I don't like getting to that point.”

Soloman actually had four saves, but one was wiped away due to a ruling that she stepped in front of the goal-line before a Nixa player booted the ball.

On the re-kick, Soloman made another save.

“That was my bad. It's so difficult to only move laterally and I stepped up before she kicked it,” Soloman said. “I had it in the back of my mind that I was not going to let them score just because I messed up.” 

Soloman starred by winning the mind games going on between her and the Lady Eagles. 

“A lot of them tried to look one way before they were going to shoot, but they looked too long,” Soloman said. “When they look too long (at one spot), that means they they're going to go the other way. They made it obvious.”

Shuler didn’t give anything away, as she approached Nixa ‘keeper Allyson Pendergraft en route to knocking in the clinching goal.

“As soon as the ref hands me the ball, I look the 'keeper straight in the eyes,” Shuler said. “It’s my way of saying, 'I'm going to make it and you better back down.’

“As much as I tried to hide it, there were a lot of nerves,” she added. “It was a lot of pressure. But you look over and see your team cheering you on. You know you really have no choice, you have to make it. That's just how it is.”

The teams battled to a scoreless tie over regulation and both overtimes. Possessions were usually short, as physical play from both sides dominated the proceedings.

“It was brutal,” Shuler said. “There were a lot of late hits off the ball. But I think that's part of soccer. You have to toughen up and take them.”

Any signs of fatigue were few, as the players never let up over the 100 minutes of action.

"That was a long time to be on the field and to be working so hard and keep fighting,” Shuler said. “The whole time the adrenaline rush kept you going because you’re doing what you love. It filled us with even more passion to see our 'keeper working as hard as she can. We wanted to do the same for her.

“They truly they put a fight, too,” she added. “But we held them off and I'm glad we were able to pull through. If there's any team we want to beat, it's definitely Nixa. When we come out here for the Christian County Cup, it's time to crush them."