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Missouri Soccer 2014: A Retrospective

The Tigers saw their season come to a close in the second round of the NCAA Tournament Friday, but let's reflect on the ride Coach Bryan Blitz and team brought us on this fall

After 90 scoreless minutes, Washington broke through for a 92' goal from Kimberly Keever, who streaked down the left side of the field before cutting into the box, and ripping a shot past Senior McKenzie Sauerwein to end Mizzou's season.

The loss puts the Tigers at 12-7-3 to end 2014, a significant improvement from the 8-9-3 campaign from 2013. Obviously the record shows the improvement, but this team was in almost every game they played in, controlling the game on the attack and defense. (Save for the Florida/Tennessee games)

Along with Sauerwein, Seniors Taylor Grant and Kaysie Clark saw their Mizzou careers come to an end on Friday night. Grant lead the Tigers with nine goals and 20 points this year, bringing her career mark to 18 goals and 44 points for Mizzou. At Mid, Clark was arguably the driving force for the Missouri attack this year, divvying out 13 assists with 3 goals this year, landing on the All-SEC First Team and CollegeSportsMadness's Third Team All-America for her efforts. She ends her career with 18 goals, 35 assists, and 53 points. In goal, Sauerwein was the rock for the MU defense, bailing out the Tigers when shaky back row play created a lot of opportunities for opposing teams. She ends her career as the career shutouts leader at Mizzou, adding six shutouts to her resume this year, along with 29 saves as well.

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After a forgettable 2013, Coach Bryan Blitz started his 19th year at Missouri hot with a 7-1-2 start, albeit not against the best competition. Mizzou's non-conference foes finished a combined 74-66-21, with just one NCAA Tournament team on the opening slate of games (West Virginia). The best part about this quick start was Missouri was winning the games that they should be winning, something that hurt the Tigers down the stretch in 2013.

The Tigers opened SEC play with another great start, winning four of their first five conference games this season, including a huge 1-0 of then-ranked 17th South Carolina, and a 2-1 victory at home over 23rd ranked Kentucky. The win over the Wildcats put Missouri in a tie for the SEC lead. While still early in conference play, Mizzou's hot start would be crucial toward clinching a first round bye in November's SEC Tournament.

The defensive play sputtered down the stretch of the final six games for Mizzou, allowing 11 goals in that span as the Tigers strung together just two wins in the last six games. Despite that, MU clinched a first round bye in the SEC Tournament as the four seed, drawing a rematch with South Carolina in the Quarterfinals. Missouri kept it close throughout, but the Gamecocks defense held Mizzou off to advance, 2-1.

Surprise, surprise. The NCAA likes matching up old conference rivals who don't play each other anymore.

Missouri drew kansas in the first round of the NCAA Tournament earlier this month, sending Coach Blitz and the team out to Lawrence for the first time since November of 2009. Grant lead the Tigers to victory with two goals on the day, advancing past the Jayhawks, 3-1.

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This was a good season for Missouri soccer. I'll tell you now, I had another fall sport pegged to be more successful this year, but Coach Blitz and the Tigers proved me wrong and competed in nearly every match this year. So where do we go from here?

Well, obviously the team won't be in action till next August at some point, but I believe we could be in for another good season at Walton Stadium next fall. Expect the offense to look just as good if not better than this year. The loss of Taylor Grant and Kaysie Clark will have an impact, but the young talent like Kaysie's sister, Kaitlyn, Savannah Trujillo, and others, I'm confident this team can be competitive again.