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Hollenbach’s Stellar Saves Power Mizzou Soccer to 0-0 Draw vs #21 Miss State

The Bulldogs came into the game with three straight wins in SEC play but the freshman keeper curtailed that streak

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Coming off of two heartbreaking losses in SEC play against LSU and Vanderbilt, respectively, Mizzou came into Audrey J Walton Soccer Stadium Friday Night looking to bounce back against a red hot Mississippi State team.

The Bulldogs, newly ranked #21 in the United Soccer Coaches Poll, were not the Tigers’ first ranked SEC opponent they have faced at Walton Stadium, as the they upset then- #23 Auburn 1-0.

As the game started it was immediately apparent both these teams’ playstyles offset each other, as the Tigers and Bulldogs relied on their defense to create offense. The Tigers ran four defenders whereas the Bulldogs ran three, making for a different looking shape for both teams while reaching the same results.

The first chance of the game came 12 minutes in as freshman Hannah Boughton ripped a shot from outside the Bulldog penalty box that sailed just wide.

Not much occurred in this game, but my habitual shoutout to the Tiger defensive group must be had. Rachel Kutella, Grace Pettet, Megan Oduyoye, and Bella Carrillo were fantastic in this game at thwarting opposing attacking opportunities. The group did it so much, the Bulldogs failed to register a single shot in the first half.

Off a corner, a deflected ball landed right at freshman Kylie Dobbs’ feet in point-blank scoring range, but she skied the chance over the crossbar. It was easily the best chance in the game up to that point with 16 minutes left in the first half, and it was a chance to test the Bulldog goalkeeper.

There were no real chances for the rest of the half, as two more Kylie Dobbs shots flirted with the goal but went wide, sending the two teams into halftime knotted up at zero. The halftime stats showed an odd story as #21 Miss State led possession time 52% to 48%, but the Tigers were outshooting them 7-0. Of note in regards to shots numbers though, only one of those shots were on target and that was a very slow header off a corner from Pettet.

The action did not start in the second half until about 9 minutes in when freshman goalkeeper Bella Hollenbach was forced to make not one, but two point blank saves as she saved a header off a corner and then sprawled to parry away the follow up chance. The crowd roared in approval for Hollenbach’s aerial athleticism on the saves.

10 minutes later, Hollenbach would be called on again and she answered the call, making another huge save in point blank range as she defended a shot from just outside the box. Hollenbach just about got her fingertips to the ball to keep the Tigers knotted at 0-0 with the Bulldogs.

Mizzou, ranked 9th in the country in corners per game going into this one, didn’t really fulfill that reputation in this match, as they finished this match with only four corners, one of their lowest totals of the season. Usually set pieces (corners, free kicks, throw-ins) are Mizzou’s strength and powers a lot of their offense, so not being able to muster many was a catalyst to Mizzou’s lack of chances in the second half.

Just when it seemed like this game was going to quietly end in a 0-0 draw, Mizzou found themselves with numbers going towards the Bulldog net and with the crowd yelling at Boughton to shoot, she launched a desperation shot that was smothered by the Bulldog goalkeeper as the clocks hit double-zeros.

While the Tigers could not pick up the win despite having chances to do so, the same can be said for the #21 Bulldogs if it weren’t for Hollenbach’s stellar second half performance.

With the draw, the Tigers move to 4-5-2 (1-2-1 SEC) and will now prepare for a road test against Tennessee on Thursday, October 6th.