Fort Osage junior Tony Rios is a soccer aficionado.
When the girls soccer season gets going in the spring, Rios can be seen in the Fort Osage press box doing color commentary during games for Fort Osage’s sports network (KFOI Sports on the NFHS Network).
When he’s not providing analysis of the game in the booth, he’s the one putting the ball in the back of the net. He did just that as he helped the Indians take one step closer to at least capturing a share of the Suburban Middle Six Conference title with a 2-0 win at William Chrisman Tuesday.
“I’ve been on the field since my freshman year and commentating was more of a last-year thing,” Rios said. “It was fun to see both sides of the game.”
It was his first game back after missing six weeks with an injury and he didn’t disappoint. He received a nice cross from Abasai Torres by the far post and Rios booted in a point-blank shot to put his team up 1-0 in the first half.
“It was a great ball by Abasai,” Rios said. “It’s good and exciting to be back definitely. Being six weeks out was really rough. They did great without me.”
After his hiatus, Rios said he was glad to be back on the field.
Fellow forward Jake Lammering said having Rios in the front with him would provide a significant boost to the Indians’ offense.
“He’s a lot more fit than some of the guys we have on the team,” Lammering said of Rios. “So he can stay in longer. The connections as he’s getting back will get better as we go down field.”
William Chrisman actually possessed the ball more than Fort as the Indians dropped defenders back often and usually tried to play a ball over the top to the speedy Jake Lammering in hopes he was isolated on one defender.
That’s exactly what happened with 2:30 left in the game when he received a long pass from Jack Tupinio and got around a Bears defender and booted the ball past the diving Chrisman goalkeeper Brandon Kuhlman to ice it.
“He got the ball over the top and I ran over to it and was able to get it in. It’s same ol’, same ol’,” Lammering said. “If we can beat defender with the long ball or through the channel over the top of them, we go for it. And that’s what happened there.
“We’re usually on defense more, but later in the game we can usually control it and get the ball up the line. And I will run and hold onto the ball until everyone gets up with me, then we decide what to do from there.”
Fort Osage coach Andrew Fletcher that his team has had a strategy to keep games low scoring, play good defense and score early and it has been working. Goalkeeper Kaia Tupinio smothered two shots from Sam Wimberley late in the game to preserve the lead.
“We’ve played well defensively all year,” Fletcher said after his team improved to 14-2-1 overall and 7-2 in the Suburban Middle Six race. “We’ve had these type of games all year where we would focus on defense after getting an early goal. We let them get the ball near the 50 and just played good solid defense.”
The Indians will be the No. 1 seed in the Class 4 District 14 tournament and they will take on Blue Springs (1-17) in the semifinals at 4 p.m. Monday at Blue Springs South’s Larry Stewart Memorial Stadium.
“Going into districts we feel we can beat Blue Springs,” Lammering said. “Then we hope these guys (Chrisman) can take care of business against Blue Springs South. So it will be us again in the district final.”
Chrisman coach John Straub said his team has been playing better despite being 5-15. He said his team will have a chance to compete in the district tournament when it takes on Blue Springs South (8-12-1) at 6 p.m. Monday at South.
“I thought our boys played really well and made excellent decisions while possessing the ball,” Straub said after his team finished 1-9 in the conference. “But unfortunately, we weren’t able to break down Fort’s defense.
“We are matched up with Blue Springs South and they are very talented, athletic and very well-coached. It will be a great challenge for us, but we’ve been playing pretty well lately, so it should be a good game.”