When Mizzou plays kansas in any sport, the intensity ramps up a few notches, and that concept stayed true in Sunday afternoon’s highly anticipated Women’s Soccer matchup between the Tigers and the Jayhawks at Audrey J. Walton Stadium.
The Tigers headed into the game with some momentum after playing a near-perfect second half against the No. 1-ranked North Carolina Tar Heels in their previous game, but that momentum was thwarted by kansas early in this bout.
Just six minutes into the match kU’s Rylan Childers launched a shot from 10 yards outside of the penalty box that eluded Tiger goalkeeper Bella Hollenbach and gave the Jayhawks an early 1-0 lead, leaving the Tiger faithful on hand to take on this match stunned in their seats.
It immediately became apparent in this match that neither team was going to have an easy time penetrating each other’s defenses through the middle. Both MU and kU’s center back duos were rock solid and closed down any gaps available, meaning most of either teams’ chances came from outside of the penalty box or from corner kicks and freekicks.
A minute after the Jayhawks’ opening goal, Missouri’s Keegan Good launched a seemingly harmless shot from outside the box that was unable to be corralled by kansas goalkeeper Melania Pasar. It drifted just wide of the net, giving the Tigers their first big chance of the game to tie it up.
With just over 30 minutes left in the first half and Missouri still trailing 1-0, a seemingly golden shot from inside the box from the Jayhawks was timely blocked by Mizzou defender Rachel Kutella and sent out of bounds for a throw-in. Kutella and her defensive partner Grace Pettet were both fantastic at sniffing out the Jayhawks forwards and not giving them any room in Mizzou’s zone throughout the match.
Over the course of the next 15 minutes, both teams went back and forth, testing each other’s fullbacks trying to find space in their attacking thirds but coming up with zero. As for the intensity, it kept going up a notch with every minute as the foul tally went higher and higher.
After Mizzou was awarded a corner kick with 16 minutes left, Pettet got her head on a cross and whipped in, but the ball went just wide of the left post, keeping the Jayhawks up by 1. Two minutes later, a beautifully executed counterattack by the Tigers led to a sliding shot in the box from Kylie Dobbs that glided wide of the net again.
kansas put on the heat in the final 10 minutes of the half, but no high danger opportunities were to be had by either team, leaving Jayhawks up by 1 at halftime. It was very apparent Mizzou would need to accrue more set pieces in the second half to be able to generate offense since nothing happening for them otherwise.
10 minutes of stagnant play from both sides to start the second half was followed by the Tigers being fouled in a dangerous spot, which led to a freekick for Mizzou midfielder Milena Fischer. Fischer had a go at the net with a shot from far out that just barely sailed over the crossbar, leaving the Tigers still in dire need of an answering goal with just under 35 minutes left in the match.
That answer came just three minutes later off a corner kick, as a ball was crossed into the box and seemingly headed to safety by a kansas defender. However, the ball landed into the feet of the freshman Good, who turned the right and launched a volley over Pasar’s head and into the top right corner, sending the Tiger fans into a frenzy. The score was finally knotted up at 1.
Disaster seemed to be inevitable for the Tigers as the Jayhawks found themselves with a point-blank opportunity in the box, but the shot was miraculously saved by Hollenbach with the aid of a few Tiger defenders sprawled along the goal line. This caused a roar from the Tiger faithful as Mizzou stayed knotted up with 29 minutes left to play.
Another bullet was dodged by the Tigers as a foul occurred just outside their own penalty box. The Jayhawks bench thought they had been awarded a penalty but instead were awarded a free-kick in a very hazardous area. However, the kick from Kate Dreyer was blocked by the wall of players set up by Mizzou, keeping the game at a standstill with just 16 minutes left to play.
Both teams were most definitely not playing for a tie, and it seemed likely a game-deciding goal was to be had in the final minutes after both teams swapped elite scoring chances. But the question remained— who would play the hero?
That question was answered by none other than Good as she was set up by Kylee Simmons and Fischer for a shot just at the top of the penalty box where she hammered a shot home in the top left of the net, inciting pandemonium from the Audrey J. Walton Stadium bleachers. The Tigers now held the lead with just 4:46 remaining in the match.
For the final five minutes Mizzou retained possession of the ball and didn’t allow the Jayhawks to get a single dangerous chance, and as the clock hit zero, the Tigers clinched their third win of the season and got a huge momentum boost before conference play.
Mizzou is now 3-2-1 on the season as will now head on the road to Champaign to finish off their non-conference slate against the Illinois Fighting Illini on Sept. 8th.