Early goal helps Missouri get past Vanderbilt

Vanderbilt was less than ready.

Twenty-seven seconds into their game against Missouri on Sunday afternoon in Columbia, the Tigers were already up 1-0.

Mizzou (9-2-2, 4-1-0 Southeastern Conference) would finish the match up 2-0 over the Commodores (5-7-1, 0-4-1), with goals from freshman midfielder Kaitlyn Clark and junior midfielder Reagan Russell.

After the Commodores’ kickoff, a series of sloppy passes led them to lose possession to Clark on their half.

Clark drove in and fired. The ball went through Vanderbilt goalkeeper Christiana Ogunsami’s legs but went wide and across the goal. Russell recovered possession, striking one-time to the left side of the net.

“(Early) goals scare the crap out of a coach,” Missouri coach Bryan Blitz said. “You never know if your team is going to go, ‘Hey, we’re so awesome,’ because we’ve done that before.

“Credit to this group for continuing to play. They’re a gritty bunch and we’re finding ways to win every time.”

Following the goal, the Commodores began to attack aggressively. Despite multiple opportunities to strike, the Mizzou defensive line kept out any attempt to equalize, limiting them to eight shots overall, while the Tigers managed to have 17.

After a dry streak, the Tigers’ second goal did not come until the second half when freshman forward Allie Hess dribbled fiercely through the Commodore defense, laying it off to a wide-open Clark, who took a touch inside of the box to fire to the left-side netting.

“The ball that Hess gave me was perfect,” she said. “I just hit it and it went in. It was awesome.”

With five saves from senior goalkeeper McKenzie Sauerwein, the Tigers were able to hold Vanderbilt to wrap the game up with a victory.

“This just shows how we’ve stuck together as a team,” Clark said. “It really showed what we can do. We just keep going at it and fighting for it.”

Missouri will play their next game at Auburn (6-4-3, 0-2-3) next Friday for their sole game of the weekend.

“Obviously, Auburn is really hard at home,” Blitz said. “I think these players understand that winning is hard. I’m sure practice will be super competitive and that’s what you want as a coach.”

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