Missouri can’t break through on offense in road flop at South Carolina

The loss leaves the Tigers fighting for their SEC tournament lives as the regular season hits its final two games.
TCU freshman defender Brandi Peterson and Mizzou junior forward Sarah Luebbert battle for possession during a match between the Tigers and Horned Frogs on September 2, 2018. TCU beat Missouri 1-0 in overtime.

Bella Alessi and Sarah Luebbert won’t be leaving Columbia, South Carolina, with fond memories of Stone Stadium’s northwest goal.

Both Missouri forwards managed to send shots past South Carolina goalkeeper Mikayla Krzeczowski in the second half of Thursday’s game. But it was the post and crossbar, respectively, which kept the Tigers (5-9-2, 2-9-1 SEC) off the scoreboard and sent them to a 1-0 defeat at the hands of the No. 8 Gamecocks (12-2-1, 6-1-1).

In the 71st minute, with Missouri trailing by a goal and struggling to generate offense, Alessi sent a long-range shot that snuck past the diving Krzeczowski but ricocheted off the right post and out of play. It would be one of Mizzou’s biggest missed chances of the night, but it did set off a string of Tiger attacks that characterized the final 20 minutes of the game.

In the 88th minute, shortly after Alessi had a shot saved by Krzeczowski, Luebbert unleashed a deep shot of her own that rose above the goalkeeper but couldn’t slip beneath the crossbar. Minutes later, the whistle blew on Missouri’s seventh shutout loss of the season, and their second in a row.

Granted, scoring on the road in South Carolina was never supposed to be an easy task. The Gamecocks are now a perfect 10-0-0 at home in 2018, and this was their sixth straight shutout performance. Krzeczowski set the SEC record in the statistic with the 34th clean sheet of her career.

The decisive goal came in the 20th minute. With Missouri’s defenders pressing high up the field, South Carolina’s Luciana Zullo received a through ball that put her in a one-on-one situation with goalkeeper Kelsey Dossey. Dossey charged off her line to challenge Zullo, but a simple chip shot put the Gamecocks on the board.

All eight of Mizzou’s SEC games this season have been decided by one goal or less, but the Tigers have just two conference wins and sit tied for 11th in the standings with two matches to play. Thursday’s result was representative of the season as a whole, as Missouri’s defense kept the game close but the offense couldn’t hold its end of the bargain.

The Tigers will host Florida on Sunday and travel to No. 18 Tennessee on Oct. 25 to finish off the regular season. Missouri and Alabama are each one standings point behind Mississippi State, who currently owns the 10th and final spot in the conference tournament.

Edited by Bennett Durando | bdurando@themaneater.com

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