BRANSON — With each of his two game-winning goals this season and despite a crazed celebration around him, Ozark’s Dillion Holseapple has had the diligence to immediately seek out one player in particular.
Last month after his goal ended a penalty kick shootout against Nixa, he gave Eagles goalkeeper and club ball teammate Nick Reid a pat on the head and consoling words as a sign of respect.
On Tuesday after Holesapple’s goal in overtime gave Ozark a 3-2 victory over Branson, he immediately pointed to and raced toward teammate Wade Korns as they were swarmed by jubilant teammates.
It was Korns who provided an assist to Holseapple on the goal that ended the match with a few minutes remaining in the extra period. Korns found Holesapple alone 20 yards in front of the goal and Holesapple drilled his shot with his left foot into the right corner of the goal.
Perfect execution on both ends.
“The first one I ran to was Wade because that ball was on a silver platter for me,” Holesapple said. “It was an unbelievable cross to the center. Wade played a beautiful ball and I was lucky enough to be on the end of it. Like coach says, ‘A goal is never about one person, it takes all 11 guys to get to that point.’
“That;s what we practice for, moments like that,” Holseapple added. “Our training I would say helped build us up for that moment.”
As Korns controlled the ball with a defender draped on him, he was thrilled to spot Holesapple.
“I saw him out wide. He was at the right spot at the right time,” Korns said. “I saw their left-back and decided to take him on and then I saw Dillon running. I crossed it across to him. It went right to his foot and he hit it perfectly. We were working and grinding and he made a great finish.”
Holesaple’s heroics have fallen in line with the energy he provides the Tigers. He’s been their proverbial spark plug, whether coming off the bench or being a starter.
“On the bus rides, it wouldn’t seem like it,” teammate Seth Glossip said. “Dillon’s a good kid, quiet and smart. But during games, he’s a completely different person, it seems. It’s awesome to watch him play. He’s all-in, 100 percent focused during the game. He’s a good teammate and talks a lot. He just wants the best for the team.”
“Dillion has been huge,” catch Tom Davidson said. “We’ve let him come off the bench and he’s worked his way back into the starting lineup. He’s played so well. When he does something, it kind of rallies us.”
Ozark jumped out to a 1-0 lead on a goal in the first half by TK Stine. After Branson tied things at 1, Glossip put the Tigers up 2-1 with a second-half goal.
While Holesapple’s goal was all power, Glossip’s goal was about finesse. Upon receiving a pass from teammate Troy Davidson, Glossip coolly deflected the ball with the outside of his left foot and into the goal.
“It was on a set-piece. Troy had a great cross. I had the front-post run and poked it in,” Glossip said. “It went back post. I probably deked the ‘keeper. He probably thought it was coming close post. I slipped it back behind him.”
The victory kept Ozark (15-2 overall and 6-0 in the COC) on track for a conference championship. The Tigers have COC dates remaining with Joplin, Willard and Carthage.
“It’s been a dream come true for me,” Davidson said. “These kids have been so much fun to coach.”