Missouri soccer improved to 2-0 on the young season with a cohesive 2-0 win over UC Santa Barbara on Sunday afternoon at Walton Stadium.
Sophomore midfielder Abi Raymer put MU up 1-0 with a 16-yard chip shot that found the back of the net within the game’s first minute, and the Tigers never looked back.
On the attack of the opening possession, a cross by junior forward Alyssa Diggs jumbled around the box before senior forward Taiwo Adeshigbin corralled it and found Raymer for the quick tally.
The goal happened so fast and amid such chaos that it caught everyone in the stadium - even the players - off guard.
“I’m not really even sure what happened,” Raymer said, laughing afterwards.
The score served as an early indication that it would be an afternoon dominated by MU. The Tigers controlled the ball most of the game, outshot Santa Barbara 19-10 and earned 10 corner kicks to the Gauchos’ seven.
“It really fired us up and got our adrenaline going,” Diggs said of the early goal. “The hard thing about scoring early is that you have to stay in it and keep your mentality right, stay focused and try to get the next one.”
Diggs added to the effort with a score of her own, already her third this season. In the 14th minute, she took a right-side feed from senior midfielder Haley Krentz and one-timed it from inside the box.
Elation turned to anguish a few minutes later though, when Diggs pulled her left hamstring and had to come off the field. She didn’t return in the second half, and said she wouldn’t have been able to even if it were a conference game later in the season.
“I was trying to press a defender and I accelerated and I just fell to the ground as I was trying to push her off the ball,” Diggs said. “It’s hurt pretty bad right now.”
Diggs has been bothered by hamstring injuries in the past. In recent days she had been rehabbing her right hamstring because it felt tight, but it was the left one that shot her down Sunday.
“That’s always been her gig a little bit, the hamstring, because she’s so fast,” coach Byan Blitz said.
Diggs was unsure but hopeful that she will be available for when the Tigers travel to Berkeley, Calif., next weekend to play the Golden Bears.
“I’m going to try to stay positive, get my rehab in and get back out there,” she said.
Blitz said that he was impressed with the way reserves Taylor Grant and Reagan Russell played substituting for Diggs. Grant, a versatile sophomore, and the freshman Russell will be asked to stop the gap left in the absence of the Tigers‘ leading scorer.
“They stepped in today, once Diggs came off the field,” he said. “And that’s important for us to be successful.”