Ozark soccer

Ozark's Jadyn Easley attempts a shot on goal in a game against Jefferson City on Monday.

Upon becoming Ozark’s new scoring queen in the Lady Tigers’ 4-1 win over Jefferson City on Monday, Jadyn Easley was quick to credit all those who have assisted in her march to history.

In addition to current and former teammates, she named her father, Kevin, for helping her on her way.

Taking into account Jadyn Easley’s exceptional lateral movement to her left or her right and the power of her booming kicks with either foot, the road to her Ozark career record 103 goals began at her home when she was 10 years old. 

Kevin was mindful then that if Jadyn was going to shine she couldn’t be one-dimensional and would need to be comfortable going to her right and her left and using any foot as her lead foot.

“We’ve done a lot of foot-skill training in our basement,” Jadyn said. “If I did something with my right foot, I had to do it with my left foot and sometimes even more with my left. I’ve definitely put in work with my left foot. 

“Foot-skill drills aren’t always fun to do. I didn’t like it when I first started doing them and still don’t like them. But they definitely are helpful.”

Easley returned home from Ozark’s trip to the Parkway Showcase over the weekend tied atop the Lady Tigers’ career goals chart with 102. She broke the tie in the first half with a breakaway goal courtesy of her right foot.

That ended a trend in which she’s scored most her five goals this season using her left foot. For her career, she guesstimates her 103 goals are almost evenly split between each foot.

“I’d say about 60-40,” Easley said. “Lately, I’ve been putting in more goals with my left foot than my right. I tend to overthink when I shoot with my right foot because it’s my strong foot and I’m thinking, ‘Oh, this should go in.’ When I kick with my left foot, I’m carefree. Sometimes, I think that’s better.

“It’s nice not to have worry at all about which foot I’m shooting with. I’ve definitely worked on that a lot.”

Ozark (3-4-1) has worked on its side of the field the majority of the time this season and not had much to show for it. The height of the Lady Tigers’ frustration was a 2-0 loss to Springfield Catholic in which they attempted 31 shots on goal to the Lady Irish’s three.

After a season-opening 4-1 win at Columbia Battle, Ozark had six goals in six matches prior to Monday.

In addition to Easley’s record-breaking goal, Keeley Combs helped beat Jefferson City with a pair of goals and Madison Morgan added a goal.

“We’ve been down and finishing has been the main thing,” Easley said. “So, to put them in tonight is a big boost for the team.”

“We’ve been having so much trouble finishing,” Combs said. “To finally finish those shots in the back of the net, it’s exciting and makes us very hopeful. Everything is fitting into place.”

Combs was particularly rejuvenated, scoring in each half. For her second score, she lofted a perfectly-placed boot from 35 yards out into a small window above the Jays' goalkeeper and the top of goal.

“I’m trying something new and had a softer touch on my shots tonight,” Combs said. “In the past, I had a tendency to try to hammer them in. When I try to hit them so hard, mine tend to fly away and over the yellow (field-goal) post. Now, I feel I’m getting back in my groove. It helps my confidence to get those in and finally end my drought.

“Last season, my shot was on. But when we started this season, they were bad. It was discouraging. I have a tendency to overthink. But I didn’t do that tonight.”  

Combs was just as thrilled to see Easley make history. They’re both seniors and have been teammates since they were 8 years old.

“We were all rooting for her tonight,” Combs said. “103 goals in your high school career, that’s crazy. She has worked so hard and deserves it. She’s the hardest worker on the team.  

“We always knew Jadyn was good. When we came in as freshmen we knew she was a star.”

Easley appreciates her place in Ozark’s soccer history and those who have made it possible.  

“The record is really important to me and something I worked for for a long time,” she said. “It means I’ve had great teams to play with for four years. The girls have always given me good balls to finish on and good balls I can run onto. For all four years, I’ve had great assisting forwards like Shannon (Murphy) and Keeley and people in the past like Mikayla Putt and Mya Davidson who were always there to give me good assists. They’ve made it easy on me.”

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