Mizzou Soccer entered Friday night’s SEC opener against the no. 23 Auburn Tigers with one goal in mind, and said goal had not been accomplished by a team playing Auburn this season. Win. And they did just that.
The game started off as a slugfest between both sides, with five fouls being registered for each team before a shot was even tallied in this game. Auburn came in sporting a reputation to incite physicality, and they really showcased that. However, a Mizzou defense consisting of regular starters Megan Oduyoye, Grace Pettet, and Rachel Kutella were up to the daunting task of stopping the Top-25 team’s offense.
Auburn actually failed to register a single shot in the entirety of the first half thanks to the aforementioned back three, which left zero stress on the Mizzou forwards to attack.
The first real chance of the game came from a cross from the outside wing to the center of the penalty box that landed at the feet of forward Jadyn Easley, whose shot was miraculously saved by Auburn goalkeeper Maddie Prochaska. The Mizzou bench held their hands to their heads in disbelief, questioning how they weren’t up by one already.
The game proceeded to get so chippy that Mizzou forward Kylee Simmons got a yellow card, leading to an Auburn free-kick that went nowhere. For those unfamiliar with soccer, when a forward gets a yellow card that essentially means you have an extremely physical game in sight.
As the half was about to end, Mizzou Head Coach Stefanie Golan brought in some substitutes so she can have fresh and untired legs out there to try and give her team a spark. That spark came in the form of Jessica Larson and Kylie Dobbs, who immediately connected off a throw-in directly after getting subbed in. Dobbs slotted home a ball with her back turned to the net, giving the black & gold Tigers a 1-0 lead.
Every single Auburn possession for the rest of the half was thwarted by a great team defensive effort from Mizzou, leading to the (better) Tigers with a 1-0 lead heading into the locker room for halftime.
As we’ve become accustomed to seeing of Mizzou, the Tigers opened the second half with the defense chasing down Auburn forwards and closing down whatever space they had. Whenever Auburn tried to create a semblance of offense it was thwarted.
Six fouls and a couple handballs later, the first big chance of the second half arose from a well-timed pass to Simmons, who launched a shot that was saved by the Auburn goalie Prochaska yet again. This upped her save tally to two surefire goals being left off the board thanks to her gloves. Her glove work kept the game within striking range for Auburn.
Auburn was noticeably lifeless for the first 30 minutes of the second half and it looked as if they were going to roll over and let Mizzou take the shock-win home with relative ease, but just as Mizzou fans got comfortable in their seats, they turned up the heat. First, an ambitious cross toured the penalty box with no Auburn forward available to hammer the ball home, leading to an ensuing corner. On the corner, the ball landed at Auburn midfielder Sidney Thibodeaux’s feet as her shot was tipped ever-so-slightly by Mizzou keeper Bella Hollenbach enough for the ball to smash the crossbar and go out of harm’s way.
From then on it was a defensive explosion from Mizzou, as they even had forwards like Simmons shielding off three to four Auburn defenders near the sideline, wasting clock till the clock hit double zeros.
Dobbs’ lone goal proved to be the difference maker in this one, as the Tigers exited Audrey J. Walton Stadium with their first win over a ranked opponent since beating no. 13 Ole Miss last season.
Mizzou is now 4-3-1 (1-0-0 SEC) on the season and will travel to Baton Rouge to play the LSU Tigers on Thursday September 22nd, before taking on Mississippi State at home on Friday, September 30.