Missouri soccer stomps Pacific 5-1 in opener

Reagan Russell and Taylor Grant lead Missouri with two goals each.

Missouri (1-0) had five goals from three players in Friday night’s 5-1 season opening victory against the Pacific Tigers (0-1). In an odd stroke of coincidence, the 5-1 score matches their score from the 2012 season opening win over Memphis.

Senior forward Danielle Nottingham marked the Tigers’ first goal of the season, as well as two assists in the victory. Reagan Russell and Taylor Grant netted two goals a piece.

“I’m hoping this year is a breakout year,” Russell said. “I think working well with the backline was really clicking well for us. That’s why we got those (goals).”

Coach Bryan Blitz elected to keep the same starting lineup he used in the Tigers’ 3-2 exhibition win over Southern Methodist last week. Two true freshmen, Erin Webb and Melanie Donaldson, earned a spot in the lineup.

“I think you see them do awesome things and then they do some freshmen ding-dong things,” Blitz said. “I think they make good decisions more than bad. And in their effort and talent there’s not a question.”

Three Mizzou seniors hooked up to give the Tigers their first goal of the 2013 season.

The goal came in the 11th minute off the foot of Nottingham. After an offside call against Pacific, Sarah Thune put a free kick from midfield into the left side of the box. Alyssa Diggs found the ball and two touched it forward to Nottingham, who poked it past Pacific goalkeeper Tashia Long.

“That was a good experience,” Diggs said about being a part of the first goal in her senior year. “Coming back from my injury and trying to get my confidence up. That was a good feeling. Me and Dani have been roommates in the past so we always say that we have a roomie connection.”

Diggs was subbed off by Russell in the 23rd minute, still feeling the effects of an irritating hamstring injury she suffered last year.

“She’s at 60 or 65 (percent),” Blitz said about Diggs. “We’re trying to get closer to 70. Which I think we are.”

Russell netted her first goal of the night off a Nottingham assist two minutes after subbing on for Diggs, giving the Tigers a 2-0 lead heading into the half. Her second goal would come late in the second half, in the 70th minute.

Missouri scored quickly after the halftime break, with Grant’s first goal coming in the 50th minute of play. Nottingham sailed a ball over the Pacific back line the Grant rocketed past the goalkeeper.

Grant’s second goal came in style when she curled a corner kick into the net in the 81st minute to give Mizzou a 5-1 lead.

Pacific scored their only goal of the game in the 52nd minute. Marciela Padilla turned a mishandled ball into an unassisted goal for Pacific’s only tally of the game.

While Blitz was happy to start the season off with a win, he was cautious to show optimism about the 5-1 result.

“I certainly think that the score line is flattery,” Blitz said. “They had some chances and I think that’s what we’re taking from this game. If they may have capitalized a little bit more, it could have been a different game.”

With a road game in Memphis only 48 hours away, Blitz hopes his team will clean up the opportunities they gave away in the opener.

“That’s a lesson we want to take into Memphis,” he said.

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