By: Dru Berry
Mizzou came into Thursday night’s game sporting a 7-2-1 record in SEC play, and were playing for at least a share of first place with the Florida Gators. Mizzou was returning home for their last game of the regular season after two victories against Alabama and Vanderbilt last weekend.
The Tigers faced the Aggies of Texas A&M, who were 6-4-0 in conference play, and coming off a close 4-3 loss against 13th-ranked Ole Miss. Both defenses set the tone early, playing physical defense while keeping scoring chances to a minimum.
The first half closed with fifteen fouls between the Aggies and Tigers, with only four shots on goal, all of which came from the Mizzou attack. A relatively quiet first half set the stage for a thrilling second half.
Texas A&M wasted no time making their presence known in the second half, with a goal from freshman forward Ally Watt in the 52nd minute giving the Aggies a 1-0 advantage. With the pressure mounting, Mizzou’s attack roared to life.
Kaitlyn Clark had owned the left side of the pitch the whole night, making great runs and sending through perfect crosses. In the 63rd of minute of regulation, her hard work was finally rewarded. Her cross from the left end line found Reagan Russell, who headed it in to tie the match at 1-1.
The rest of regular time was played at a frenetic pace, with both teams seeing a few good chances just fall short. Play settled down in the first overtime, as a mixture of fatigue and the cold seemed to hinder the Aggie and Tiger attack.
A scoreless first overtime gave way to the second overtime, and four minutes in Mizzou appeared to strike gold. Rachel Hignett was fouled in the box, and Mizzou was awarded a penalty kick. Candace Johnson stepped up to take the kick, and the tension in the air was palpable. The crowd was ready to erupt, but Aggie keeper Danielle Rice was having none of it.
Rice blocked the shot, keeping the tie intact and taking the air out of the crowd. A Johnson header a few minutes later bounced off the post, and the game ended in a 1-1 draw.
With the tie, the Tigers finish second in the SEC standings, a program record. The Tigers receive the No. 2 seed in the SEC tournament thanks to this finish, and will play the winner of the Kentucky vs. LSU match Wednesday.