Missouri drops second straight game to Cal State Fullerton

The Tigers are now 5-2-0 on the season after winning their first five games.
Redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Peyton Bauman runs onto the field before Friday night's matchup against California State Fullerton. The Tigers lost the contest, 3-2. Kirubel Mesfin

Multiple times this season Missouri (5-2-0, 0-0-0 SEC) has been the benefactor of early goals.

Against Cal State Fullerton (5-2-0, 0-0-0 BWC) though, it was on the receiving end of an early blow as the Titans scored in the fifth and 20th minutes to establish an early 2-0 lead in the game which helped propel Cal State to a 3-2 win.

“We can’t give up two early goals and we have got to correct that right away,” coach Bryan Blitz said. “I didn’t have my team ready and I’ll make sure that [I] correct [that] as the head coach.”

Cal State Fullerton’s first goal came off a deep cross from junior defender Delaney Lindahl to the back post where senior forward Taylor Salgado managed to outleap her marker and head the ball home.

The second goal came in similar fashion with a misclearance following a Titan free kick, which provided sophomore midfielder Kaya Hawkinson plenty of time to deliver a pinpoint ball to the weak side where junior midfielder Haley Brown managed to get around her mark to tap the ball home.

“They’re really good team they came out ready to play,” senior defender Anna Frick said.

The Titans dominated the early proceedings with plenty of pressure on the Tiger net, forcing several saves from redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Peyton Bauman, including a diving effort that saw Bauman go full stretch to keep out a header from senior forward Atlanta Primus on a corner kick.

Following a formational switch to a back three, Missouri battled back though in the final 15 minutes of the half. Using the extra midfielder from the shift in formation to retain more possession and get into the Cal State defensive third.

“We were down two nothing and we’re at home, so we had to go for it and our team handled the change [in formation] very well, so again I was proud of not only the fight back but them being able to adapt,” Blitz said.

The Tigers’ hard work was rewarded in the 38th minute when senior forward Sarah Luebbert shielded the ball from a defender on her back and rolled into open space. Luebbert was in on goal with her defender left trailing and she took advantage, slotting a low shot past redshirt freshman goalkeeper Noa Schumacher to cut the deficit in half. Missouri would sustain its pressure, eventually finding an equalizer with junior forward Macy Trujillo taking advantage of a failed clearance on a cross to fire a rocket past Schumacher in the 43rd minute. For Trujillo, it has been a slow start to the season. However, the goal, just the second of her career, was a testament to the work she has put in to improve.

“She’s earned her playing time very slowly since Stanford and she could have easily just been a victim and quit,” Blitz said. “She did extra work and extra film and it’s paying off now.”

The momentum didn’t carry over into the second half, though as the Titans would once again get a quick goal in the second period of play to regain the lead.

In the 49th minute, Primus drew multiple Tiger defenders as she dribbled into the box. She freed up space for Brown who she slipped the ball to for an easy finish and her second goal of the game.

The Tigers once again attempted to mount a comeback throwing numbers forward, but despite creating a few clear chances they were unable to get an equalizing goal. The game began to grow more stretched and frantic, wearing down players on both sides. The loss is the second in a row for the Tigers who opened the season 5-0-0 but have struggled recently to generate any momentum and string together a complete 90 minutes of play.

Missouri now faces a quick turnaround as well as it will have just one day to recover before facing Northern Colorado this Sunday in its final non-conference game before it hits the road to start SEC play.

“Definitely get a lot of sleep tonight,” Frick said about her recovery plans. “Get the body moving … just lay low and get off our feet … [Sunday] will be our sixth home game [in a row] so just finish out strong and be ready.”

The Tigers will also hope to have redshirt sophomore midfielder Zoe Cross available this weekend as she continues to work her way back from an ankle injury that she picked up last week. However, Blitz said her status is still up in the air.

Edited by Wilson Moore | wmoore@themaneater.com

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