Senior forward Alyssa Diggs may have started all of Missouri’s 15 games this year, but she only played 969 minutes; her ailing hamstring kept the Tigers’ top offensive threat hamstrung on the bench.
But Diggs’ now healthy legs pushed Missouri (7-7-1, 3-3-1 SEC) past No. 11 South Carolina (12-2-1, 5-2 SEC), 2-1 on a rain-drenched Friday night.
“I’m a much better coach with a healthy Alyssa Diggs,” coach Bryan Blitz said afterward.
Diggs ran 30 yards cross field with the match tied at 1 in the 78th minute and struck a ball 18 yards out that curved into the top right corner of the net.
“I think you’ve kinda gotta go out there sometimes and take a chance,” Diggs said. “That’s what I tried to do and it ended up working out well.”
“It did look like it was going to go wide to everybody, and it just like curved in at the last minute so it was a really good shot,” said junior midfielder Taylor Grant, who was split wide to the other wing on the play.
The Gamecocks couldn’t respond down the stretch, and the Tigers traipsed off the soaking field with their second-largest upset of the year. They knocked off then-No. 7 Florida in September.
“Maybe we have to put a number against everybody,” Blitz said.
It was as Diggs got her first several touches that Missouri’s offense, one that put up 12 shots and four on goal, came to form.
In the 26th minute, she dashed down the left side and had her cross chopped down. But on the ensuing corner, Grant curved a ball that flicked off Gamecock keeper Sabrina D’Angelo’s mitts to give the Tigers an early lead.
“I think (Diggs’ run) is something that really did jump start it,” Grant said of Missouri’s attack. “I mean, seeing she could beat that player, so all of us knew that we could take them, we just had to get our minds ready for it.”
South Carolina countered in the 71st minute when defender Paige Bendell tapped in a cross from forward Daija Griffin, who capped her run with an athletic jump-cut to split two defenders in the MU back line.
From there, Missouri, stuck in a rut of holding numbers back, let loose on the offensive and on its quality chance of the game’s waning moments, with Diggs in a one-on-one, struck back to claim the lead for good.
Blitz said it was a come-from-behind win his Missouri side desperately needed after falling 1-0 at Louisiana State last Friday.
“We played so great at LSU and didn’t get the result,” he said. “We actually played better there then against Florida with the win. So from that standpoint, I’m happy that the kids gutted it out.
“I think the best thing is that we came from a goal back and that’s somewhere we haven’t been. It took a lot of character to do that.”