After two heartbreaking losses down in Texas this past weekend, the Missouri soccer (4-3) picked up its first victory in almost two weeks, beating winless Eastern Illinois, 3-0.
The Tigers wasted no time getting on the board as freshman Melanie Donaldson scored her second goal of the season in the game’s opening minutes. Donaldson fired a laser beam from the top of the box after receiving a pass from sophomore Reagan Russell.
“Reagan played me a perfect ball, and I was just praying it didn’t go over,” Donaldson said of her strike. “The goal was motivation for us even though we came out pretty fired up.”
The Tigers added to their lead when junior Kaysie Clark caught the Panthers defense napping in the 21st minute. With the ball in the box, Clark found senior Dominique Richardson alone in the corner and set Richardson up for a one-on-one. Upon receiving Clark’s pass, Richardson beat Panthers keeper Emily Hinton for her second goal of the season.
Despite outshooting Eastern Illinois, 7-3, in the first half, the Tigers were only able to take a two-goal lead due to missed attempts by the Tigers and strong defense by Hinton.
“I think we relaxed a bit after the first goal, we played a bit too casual,” coach Bryan Blitz said. “At halftime we talked about raising our level, playing against ourselves, and showing our fans that we were working hard for them.”
The Tigers struggled to find a tally early in the second half after the Panthers put Kylie Morgan in goal to take over for Hinton.
Mizzou’s third goal came from an unlikely source with defensive anchor sophomore Candace Johnson dribbling through the defense for her first goal of the season. Johnson’s goal was a bit of a throwback goal for the defenseman as she played forward in high school.
“I just take whatever I’ve learned on defense and try to apply it when I’m on offense,” Johnson said of her goal. “I’m happy it was able to work out.”
After losing a pair of 2-1 games in the Texas A&M tournament this past weekend, Johnson thought the win was important for the team.
“We needed this,” Johnson said. “We had a rough weekend so it was good to get our feet back under us at home and get some different people playing in different positions.”
Junior Mackenzie Sauerwein had four saves in goal as the team earned their third shutout of the season.
The Tigers now head west to wrap up their non-conference schedule as they play national power Portland on Sunday. The Tigers then start conference play next Friday at Mississippi State.
“I think the Portland game will be a good game for us,” Blitz said of Sunday’s test. “I’ve never had a team in my 18 years here go on the road as much as this team and I think that will pay off for us down the road.”