Let the countdown begin for Caleb Lepant’s chase toward Ozark’s single-season goals record.
Through 22 matches entering the Tigers’ trip to Marquette over the weekend, Lepant had 29 goals. The program’s current standard is 33, set by Adrian Ortega during his standout senior season last year.
Ortega remains a fixture at Ozark matches and sits with his former teammates on the Tigers’ bench.
“I kind of feel bad, I’ve got to let him sit on his record for a little bit,” Lepant joked.
All kidding aside, he’d very much like to have the record.
“It’s something I have in mind,” Lepant said. “I think it’s achievable. It’s getting very real.”
Ozark coach Zack Owens long ago nicknamed Lepant ‘The Facilitator,’ for his penchant to pass out assists. Owens feels that nickname still sticks, even as Lepant's scoring has taken off.
“Caleb’s a competitor, so he wants that notch on his belt,” Owens said of the record. “But it’s not making him selfish or anything like that. He’s still distributing the ball and getting assists. It’s not just about chasing that record. His assists and goals translate into wins for us. He’s making sure he’s doing everything he can to make the team successful.”
Lepant had nine goals and 16 assists as a junior last season. He realized his scoring would need to pick up to help the Tigers continue to win.
“Before the season began, there were some chirps about how I needed to get goals since Adrian is gone,” Lepant said. “I feel my junior season was a little underwhelming, as far as goals. I didn’t get as many as I expected. But this year it’s picked up. I’ve been good at finding the back of the net.”
It’s been a fulfilling season on many fronts for Lepant. He’s nearing the goals he set for himself and the team and establishing a legacy that puts him among the program’s all-time greats.
“Me and my Dad were talking about that in the pre-season and for personal goals I wanted to get pretty high up on our school leader board, as far as points,” Lepant said. “I’m in seventh place right now. I also wanted 30 goals.
“It’ll be fun to see your name up on the board, something that may stay up there for a minute,” he said.
Lepant is likely on his way to receiving lofty post-season awards, particularly with Ozark repeating as COC champions. Last season, Ortega was the COC Offensive Player of The Year.
Lepant and Carthage’s Welle Welle figure to be top contenders for that honor this time around. Welle currently has more goals than Lepant, but Lepant scored the winning goal in Ozark’s overtime win at Carthage that decided the COC championship.
“I like the way you think,” Owens said when told the latter should decide the Offensive Player of The Year winner.