By Matt McFarland
Football is back nationwide; and it isn’t just the gridiron variety. Missouri soccer opened its season at home at Walton Stadium against Southern Mississippi.
All things considered- the Tigers have a lot of room for improvement after their season opener. Things opened brightly Missouri with a score just two minutes in on a beautiful combination from Sarah Luebbert to Julissa Cizneros put Missouri up 1-0.
Mizzou dominated the first 20 minutes with the signature style that head coach Brian Blitz has established- a heavy-pressing high energy style of play. After that point, however, the Tigers’ energy notably deteriorated. As the first half came to a close, Southern Miss kept more the of possession and put MU’s back line under considerable pressure. The second half brought more of the same,- with the game largely being played in the Mizzou’s end in front of debutant goal keeper Peyton Baumann.
It wasn’t all bad though- Mizzou’s back 4 was outstanding. Anna Frick and Peyton Joseph were enforcers in the middle, eliciting rounds of applause on multiple occasions with outstanding challenges. Momola Adesanmi showed her prowess at fullback, and also appeared to be the fittest on the field with powerful runs and stalwart defense made life very difficult for the Golden Eagle’s on the right side. A mixture of Caroline Lyman and Bella Alessi were able to hold their own on the left side of the Tiger defense as well. Overall, it was a very impressive evening for the Mizzou backline, as they looked well coached and in control the whole game.
What truly raised questions in the last 70 minutes of the game was Missouri’s midfield. Southern Miss more time of possession- that rests largely on the midfield. Cassidy Nurnberger was not her usual self and had little impact on the game. Returning from injury, Zoe Cross looked lively but struggled to make a noticeable impact. Southern Miss won the midfield battle without a doubt and while the Golden Eagles are talented.
As for Missouri, if the Tigers hope to finish above their predicted 10th place in SEC they need a better effort from its midfield.
Mizzou had its share of offensive struggles last season, averaging just 0.84 goals a game, and tonight was no different. Apart from an awe-inspiring pass and finish combination from Luebbert to Cizneros early on, the Tigers attack had little finish. In the second half, the Tigers counter attacked well while playing a deeper defensive style, but their pace held no reward as Mizzou struggled in the final third. Again, the Tigers need to find a way to score more on a consistent basis.
When asked about the game, Bryan Blitz didn’t seem too worried about the drop energy.
“It will improve throughout the season, we’ll get where we need to be,” Blitz said. He also confirmed that two out-and-out attackers up top will be the formation of choice going forward.
All in all, Missouri wasn’t horrible on Thursday night, they looked incredibly stout defensively and still possessing a relatively young roster, there is plenty of room for improvement. The Tigers will need to improve if they have any chance to beat a terrific Ohio State side on Monday away from home.
Edited by Garrett Jones | firstname.lastname@example.org