Seniors lead way for Tiger soccer

After a dismal start to the season, the Tigers have started strong in conference play with a 2-1 record.

The Missouri soccer team is now 2-1 in Big 12 play following a comeback victory over Oklahoma on Sunday.

Senior forward Alysha Bonnick scored two goals in the last six minutes against Oklahoma to give the Tigers a narrow victory in a game that appeared lost. Bonnick leads the team with seven goals in the season.

Fellow senior Krista Kruse, a midfielder, is second on the team with five goals. She was the only player to score in a loss to Oklahoma State on Friday night. The rest of the team has a combined 10 goals.

“It’s all about the seniors,” Missouri head coach Bryan Blitz said. “It’s their last year. We go as the seniors go, and they’re all having banner years on and off the field.”

Missouri has a very young team, with just four seniors. Forward Kari Adam and goalkeeper Paula Pritzen are the other seniors.

Adam, who comes off of the bench for the Tigers in most games, has two goals on the season.

Pritzen, who transferred to Missouri from Clemson University prior to this season, is the only senior who is not a captain. Pritzen started three home games in goal for the Tigers, but Blitz said he plans to stick with sophomore Jessica Gwin in goal.

Since conference play began Sept. 24, Kruse and Bonnick have stepped up for the Tigers. Kruse scored the go-ahead goal in a 4-1 victory over Kansas last week, and scored against Oklahoma State on Friday.

“For me personally, knowing that this is my last year makes me want to go one hundred percent every game; not be afraid to shoot it,” Kruse said.

Kruse started four games her freshman year, and has been a consistent starter for the rest of her career at Missouri.

Bonnick, a consistent starter since her freshman season, made all the difference in Missouri’s win over Oklahoma with her two goals.

“She’s done really well,” Adam said. “She’s done well throughout her entire career here. Just like everyone else she comes out ready to play, to give it everything she’s got every game.”

Bonnick is one goal away from matching the eight goals that she scored last season in Missouri’s conference championship run. She scored 11 goals in her freshman and sophomore years, and holds the school record for game winning goals, now with 13.

“She’s a true finisher,” Blitz said. “That’s her ability and her talent we have to have her to do well.”

The Tigers tied or lost all of their first six games, but have won four of their last six, largely on the success of Kruse and Bonnick.

“We do have a young team, so we use everybody,” Adam said. “They're putting away the chances that they get, and hopefully more people will start contributing to that, but we’re all working hard.”

Bonnick, Kruse, Adam and the rest of the Tigers will try to continue their Big 12 success on the road next weekend, taking on Colorado on Friday and Nebraska on Sunday.

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