By Mark Schremmer
Globe Sports Writer
The Joplin Eagles soccer team will have to settle for a share of the Ozark Conference title after a 2-1 loss to the Rolla Bulldogs on Tuesday night at Junge Field.
Rolla (19-4, 7-1 Ozark) took a 2-0 lead off a pair of goals from forward Aaron Froehlich and held on for the win.
Joplin (20-2-1, 8-1) lost its first league game of the season and will share the conference title with the winner of Rolla’s game tonight against Kickapoo, which also has a 7-1 league record.
The Bulldogs were physical and were keeping extra players back, making it difficult for Joplin to get into a flow offensively.
“We had some problems early on figuring out things offensively,” Joplin coach Ed Miller said. “We had only two guys up early. We needed to get more guys up.”
The Eagles’ Joe Rice had a breakaway attempt on a goal, but he was stopped. Rolla quickly turned it back for Froehlich’s first goal at the 14-minute mark.
Rice had another shot on goal with 15 seconds left in the first half, but it was saved by Rolla goalkeeper Gage Scurlock.
The Bulldogs took a 2-0 advantage on a header from Froehlich at the 56-minute mark.
“Their headers were with a purpose,” Miller said. “They were really strong in the air.”
Joplin cut the Rolla lead in half when forward Ryan Estus scored on a free kick at the 60-minute mark.
The Eagles had a few more runs at the goal after that but weren’t able to cash in.
While Joplin wasn’t pleased with the loss, the Eagles still have plenty to play for. They are the top seed in Class 3 District 12 tournament next week in Joplin.
The Eagles will face Parkview at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, and Kickapoo will play Central at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday. The winners will decide the district title at 6 p.m. on Nov. 2.