After accolades, Sauerwein wants SEC championship

In her four years of play, Sauerwein now possesses six separate records in goal.
Ben Kothe / Graphic Designer

Solidifying her spot as one of the top players in Missouri soccer history, redshirt senior goalkeeper McKenzie Sauerwein saved her way into the record books Sept. 7 when she shut out Tennessee-Martin at home, giving her the most shutouts the program has ever seen.

Sauerwein now holds an abundance of records, with the most shutouts, wins, saves, games played, games started in goal and minutes played in goal, making her one of the most decorated players in Mizzou soccer history.

Having started in all but one of her games as an active player for the Tigers, the Texas native has received a number of intraconference awards, including Southeastern Conference Defensive Player of the Week and All-Tournament Team, along with Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week.

“McKenzie had to earn everything that she has done,” head coach Bryan Blitz said. “She’s made the most of her ability and continued to strive to overachieve. Nothing came easy for her; she’s really worked for what she’s earned.”

Although she has had great success in the SEC, Sauerwein traces her fondest soccer memory to when the Tigers were still members of the Big 12.

During the 2011 Big 12 Championship quarterfinals, Mizzou took on the Baylor Bears and tied 2-2, leading to a penalty shootout. A redshirt freshman at the time, Sauerwein was able to keep out Baylor’s fifth shot. Following her save, the goalkeeper stepped up and put in the match’s winning penalty kick.

Sauerwein recalled that at that moment, her teammates, none of whom remain on the Tigers’ current squad, dogpiled her.

Now in her final season with the team, Sauerwein has one goal: an SEC Championship.

“We have to play really hard (to reach the SEC Championship),” she said. “(Louisiana State) is our first conference game, so we’re definitely focused on winning that and then recovering since we don’t have a game on Sunday. We just need to take it one game at a time.”

The star goalkeeper is evidently a leader on the field. When the Tigers are attacking, Sauerwein can be seen standing 30 yards from the goal, yelling orders and encouragement at her teammates.

“I like playing off my line a lot,” she said. “I’m aggressive and it’s just something I’ve always been good at. It helps the team out.”

Good communication has been a focus for the Tigers from the start.

“We work a lot on communication,” junior defender Candace Johnson said. “It’s something (McKenzie and I) improved on in the last three years. It’s been a lot of ups, not that many downs, really.”

Being the oldest player on the team, Sauerwein is looked up to not only on the field, but off it.

Senior midfielder Kaysie Clark, Sauerwein’s co-captain, said her goalkeeper gets the team excited prior to games and intimidates opponents, but is also “really goofy and off-the-wall crazy.”

Despite her countless accolades, Sauerwein is not one to brag.

“She doesn’t really boast about her records,” Johnson said. “Other than noticing articles, we didn’t know (about the records); she’s humble. She’s working for the team like we’ll work for her.”

With almost no individual accolades left to collect, Sauerwein remains motivated by her hopes to get a chance to play at the next level following her collegiate career.

“Soccer means everything to me,” she said. “I don’t know what I’d do without it. I’ve always played it and it’s always kept me out of everything else. That’s all I know, is soccer.”

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