Loyola Chicago ends Missouri’s win streak with 2-1 defeat

Missouri was unable to hold onto a 1-0 lead, allowing two late goals to give the Ramblers the win.
Senior forward Sarah Luebbert fights for the ball during Sunday's 2-1 loss to Loyola Chicago. Luebbert scored Missouri's lone goal in the contest. Andrew Moore

In what has become a common trend recently, Missouri (5-1-0, 0-0-0 SEC) struggled to put away Loyola Chicago (2-3-1, 0-0-0 MVC) despite opening the scoring and creating multiple solid chances in the second half. After its strong 5-0-0 start to the season, coach Bryan Blitz views Missouri’s first loss as a learning moment for himself and the players.

“I think we’ve been living on the edge a little bit for the last two games,” Blitz said. “Hopefully we’ll learn a quick lesson as the head coach and also in our program.”

Both teams had a quiet first half with few clear cut opportunities for either team, but the Tigers were the ones that roared to life first in the second half.

Missouri got its goal in the 52nd minute when junior midfielder Lindsey Whitmore made a driving run from midfield through the heart of the Loyola Chicago defense. After Whitmore glided past multiple Rambler defenders she slipped the ball to senior forward Sarah Luebbert who placed the ball low and to the right of freshman goalkeeper Grace Droessler.

Missouri kept up the pressure with freshman forwards Janna Singleton and Jadyn Easley each getting the final touch on well-worked plays and forcing two big saves from Droessler to hold the Tigers to one goal.

Those saves seemed to be the turning point in the game as Missouri seemed to switch off toward the end of the half, allowing Loyola Chicago to gain the upper hand. For Blitz, the way Missouri has played with a lead recently was a point of emphasis post game as he outlined ways the team could improve.

“We want to play a little bit different and keep the ball a little bit more and not get into a counter-attack track meet every time we are ahead,” Blitz said. “[We need to focus on putting] away our chances that we’re creating on that side, but also just game management and [knowing] where we’re at when we’re up.”

Both goals for Loyola Chicago came from freshman midfielder Megan Nemec who had come off the bench in the 25th minute.

The first goal came as the result of a cross from freshman midfielder Amanda Cassidy which found Nemec unmarked at the back post allowing her to get an easy tap in and draw the Ramblers level with the Tigers in the 76th minute.

Nemec’s second goal would come just three minutes later when a clearance by the Ramblers defense went over the entire Missouri backline forcing redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Peyton Bauman to make a quick decision. Bauman chose to come off her line to try and head the ball clear of the oncoming Nemec, but failed to connect and gave Nemec a free run on goal for an easy finish into an empty net.

Despite the error, Blitz was satisfied with the way his goalkeeper played and reinforced that the loss was not on Bauman.

“We always want our goalkeepers to be aggressive off their line,” Blitz said. “She made a few saves in the first half where she had to come off her line … she didn’t cost us the loss. We lose as a team; we win as a team.”

The loss is Missouri’s first of the year, ending what had been its best start to a season since 2012 when it also started with a five-game win streak. Despite the impressive start, the season hasn’t been without issues as redshirt senior midfielder Madison Lewis pointed out.

“We’ve just got to find a way to put a full 90 minutes together,” Lewis said. “It’s a lot of mental toughness and that’s something that we’ve focused on a lot this year is just learning how to bounce back.”

Missouri will now have to gear up to play Friday against a Cal State Fullerton team that is currently 4-2-0 on the season. A week later the Tigers will start Southeastern Conference play against Ole Miss on the road.

“Seems to be a million miles away with SEC play,” Blitz said. “We won’t even look ahead … we do one practice at a time so that’s what we’ll do.”

Edited by Emily Leiker | eleiker@themaneater.com

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