Good news! Mizzou learned from their offensive lapses against North Carolina, and were able to create more opportunities vs. Syracuse on Friday, outshooting the Orange 19-15.
Bad News? They weren't able to convert on any of those opportunities.
Still, there was visible improvement out of the Tigers compared to last week's match vs. the Tar Heels. The back line looked better and kept Syracuse from many breakaway chances, and when they did get through, McKenzie Sauerwein once again kept the Orange out of the net, picking up her 16th career shutout, just one shy of the school record.
While a tie wasn't the ideal way to start the season, it's a measuring stick for Mizzou to see where they stand after last week's exhibition.
Taylor Grant led the charge for the Mizzou offense early against No. 10 West Virginia on sunday, scoring twice to put the Tigers up 2-0 as the second half started. Everything was going Mizzou's way: They had the lead, they were controlling the pace, and McKenzie Sauerwein was once again pitching a shutout vs. the Mountaineers....until the 53rd minute that is. WVU nailed a nice cross into the box that was slid into the net by Kate Schwindel to pull WVU within one. Ten minutes later, Kelsie Maloney made a move to get around Sauerwein for the easy equalizer to knot it up at 2-2. Both teams traded chances over the next 20 minutes before Schwindel one-timed a cross into the box the put West Virginia up 3-2 to complete the comeback.
Like the Syracuse game, Mizzou was able to create more opportunities to score and kept themselves in the lead because of that. Although they were outshot by the Mountaineers, the Tiger attack looks to be continually improving so far this year. However, the defensive problems continue to show this year, and it was the most evident in tonight's game. McKenzie Sauerwein has been great so far this year, recording 10 saves in the first two games of the year, but there have been occasions where the attacking team would break though the back four and it's just her between the ball and the goal. The defense will definitely need to step it up on preventing breakaways before conference play starts.
Overall, there are some good things to come out of this weekend with: Sauerwein may have her best year at Keeper for Mizzou, and the attacking front seems to be improving at creating scoring chances. Defense is key to success for the Tigers this year, and Bryan Blitz will have to lock that down going into the rest of the year.
Missouri hits the road again for two matches this weekend against TCU in Fort Worth on Friday, August 29th, and SMU in Dallas on Sunday, August 31st.