By: Joe Noser
Sophomore goalkeeper Kelsey Dossey had three saves, junior Allie Hess scored a game-winning goal off a header, and the Missouri Tigers improved to 8-3-0 and escaped with a 2-1 overtime victory over the Mississippi State Bulldogs at Walton Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
The Tigers did not start the contest well, as they looked tired and listless at times in the first half and the Bulldogs, who entered the contest in last place in SEC play, were able to dominate time of possession. They were aggressive both on and off the ball and kept Mizzou on their heels, finally breaking through on the scoreboard in the 38th minute when junior Mallory Eubanks brought the ball down the right side of the field and delivered a pinpoint cross into the box for sophomore defender Jen Huckaby, who fired the ball into the back of the net. Mizzou responded with a great shot off a cross of their own, but junior goalkeeper Tanya de Souza was able to deny the Tigers with diving save to her left, and the Bulldogs preserved their lead into halftime.
The second half, however, was a totally different story, as Mizzou came out of the locker room with renewed energy and determination to stave off the Bulldogs’ upset attempt. The Tigers played with a new offensive strategy, focusing on dumping the ball into the Bulldogs’ zone, and were able to generate lots of chances. Senior Lauren Selaiden, who played all 99 minutes for the Tigers, had two particularly good shots on goal, but was denied both times by de Souza, who had six saves. Sophomore Bethany Coons had three shots on goal, including two shots that she fired past de Souza but were knocked away by an MSU defender just before it crossed the plane in the 82nd and 87th minutes.
The Bulldogs’ defense was a strong suit for much of the game, but one miscue cost the team dearly. In the 58th minute, junior Kaitlyn Clark fired a ball into the box off a corner kick for the Tigers, one of 16 corners the Tigers took on the day. The ball bounced off the chest of an MSU defender as she was scrambling for possession of it and into the back of the net for an own goal, tying the score, 1-1. It was the first own goal the Tigers have been the beneficiaries of this season. Nonetheless, the Bulldogs were able to play exceptional defense for the rest of the half, surviving the Tiger’s onslaught of chances and forcing the game into overtime.
The overtime period was completely dominated by the Tigers. The Bulldogs did not record a shot during the period, and did not record a shot on goal after the first half. The Tigers, meanwhile, used the same strategy they had used in the second half, dumping the ball in and making lots of dangerous runs on a Bulldog defense that looked exhausted for the last 15 minutes of the second half and all of the overtime period. Finally, in the 99th minute, Clark again took a corner from the right side of the field, the Tigers’ 16th of the contest. This time, however, she delivered a ball that curved its way over to a practically unguarded Hess, who leaped into the air and headed the ball into the top left hand corner of the net for the score. Finally, on the Tigers’ 20th shot and tenth on goal, they were able to get the victory.
Mizzou will now travel to Auburn, Alabama, to take on the Auburn Tigers on September 30, where they will look to pick up their fourth Southeastern Conference win. Both teams now have nine points in SEC play, and are hoping to gain ground on Arkansas and South Carolina, who are both 3-0 in SEC play thus far.