By Matt McFarland
It was a stressful Sunday afternoon for Bryan Blitz and his Missouri Soccer team as it looked to break a two-game losing streak at Walton stadium as it battled Northern Colorado. The Tigers were the better team for the vast majority of the game the Bears defense looked outmatched and overwhelmed. The Tigers were offensively dominant in regulation, outshooting the Bears 10-6 and having a whopping 10 corners to Northern Colorado’s measly two.
Even with the offensive onslaught, Missouri struggled to find goals, a beautiful pass from Easley to Kingsley in the 26th minute gave Blitz’s girls a 1-0 lead after a good period of soccer. However, the Bears responded with an Avery Smith goal off a free kick that took several deflections. The story of the first half wasn’t the Bears goal- it was the struggles for the Tiger’s strikers. By the time the Bears responded in the 39th minute, the game should have been 3-0, both Kingsley and Julissa Cisneros blew chances in front of goal. Blitz didn’t start the Sophomore striker, saying he wanted to bring in “some fresher players.”
The second half was an uneventful defensive battle- both teams seemed affected by the oppressive heat, with highs hitting 90, on turf that makes the playing surface around 100 degrees. Both teams’ strikers seemed to have little pace and finish, which is fair considering neither team has played in much heat this year.
Despite being dominated much of the game, the Bears had a wonderful chance to win in overtime. Were it not for Peyton Baumann making a miraculous stop in the 94th minute to save the game, the Bears would have left Walton Stadium happy. However, Baumann did make the save and just one-minute Grace Kitts blistered a strike into the top right corner to win the game for the Tigers.
Coach Blitz seemed to think his keeper made the next step in her progression today.
“She’s knows she might have to win us some games and that’s the first time she’s done that this year,” Blitz said. “She’s done the routine nice stuff but that’s the first time she’s done something like that.”
Blitz also said he was happy with his bench- his “game changers.” Depth is a strength for the Tigers, as a deep freshman and senior class lends itself well to the multitude of subs Blitz has used this year. Depth upfront is imperative for Missouri especially is Cisneros continues to struggle.
After suffering an injury and some other hardships last year, the redshirt Junior made the most out of her chance on Sunday. With the ball falling perfectly to her in the box, Kitts said her only focus was “putting the ball on goal.” Kitts seemed focused on the SEC schedule ahead and if the Tigers can win more games on the backs of their bench, the Tigers could be a force to reckoned in conference play.
Edited by Garrett Jones | firstname.lastname@example.org