Missouri ends scoring drought in second half of 2-0 win over Gonzaga

The Tigers hadn’t scored since before the start of the fall semester, but they found the net twice on Sunday to break a four-game losing streak.
Madison Lewis scores Missouri's first goal in 434 minutes of play on a penalty kick in the 66th minute against Gonzaga on Sept. 9, 2018. The Tigers were scoreless over four total games before Lewis' goal.

It had been four games and change — 434 minutes to be exact — since Missouri soccer had scored its last goal. But on a windy Sunday afternoon at Walton Stadium in Columbia, the Tigers lit up the scoreboard not once but twice in the second half, ending their surreal offensive drought in a 2-0 win over Gonzaga.

It snapped a four-game losing streak for Missouri (2-1-4).

The first half on Sunday saw Missouri enjoy more possession and shots than it has been used to recently, but its scoring struggles continued despite the shift. Senior goalkeeper Kelsey Dossey, who has kept the Tigers close in many of their recent losses, was mostly a spectator in the scoreless opening period.

In the fourth minute, Missouri’s first chance came when a long shot by freshman Bella Alessi was pushed over the crossbar by Gonzaga goalkeeper Isabel Jones. Alessi’s shot was the only one of Missouri’s 12 in the first half to be placed on goal, as most of the Tigers’ attempts originated from long distances and missed the target.

“We still have to solve that for sure,” coach Bryan Blitz said. “I think with our speed a lot of teams are going to just going to drop off — they want to keep behind — which is a good strategy.”

In the 25th minute, junior forward Sarah Luebbert had a shot blocked by a Bulldog defender, but Jones was still forced into action as the deflection sent the ball towards the bottom corner of the goal. It was the closest the Tigers would come to a second official shot on goal in the first half.

By contrast, while Gonzaga’s possession and shots were limited, it managed to place three of its five first half shots on goal.

The breakthrough occurred in the 66th minute, when a handball in the box by a Gonzaga defender gave Missouri a penalty kick and an opening to finally find the back of the net. Redshirt junior midfielder Madison Lewis stepped up and shot to the goalkeeper’s left. Jones got a touch on the ball as she dove, but it wasn’t enough to keep it out.

“I knew I had to go up there and stay calm [and] plugged in,” Lewis said. “I knew I should finish it like I always do, and it hit the right corner.”

The game saw a heightened level of physicality in the second half, as each team had two players receive yellow cards. Sophomore Morcquess Oliphant and freshman Blythe Beldner were the two Tigers booked.

“I think we’re going to see [this level of physicality] next week against conference play,” Blitz said. “That’s the norm in the [Southeastern Conference].”

In the 83rd minute, Missouri's theme of long shots finally paid off as redshirt junior Bethany Coons sent a shot from outside the box screaming into the top of the net. It was Coons’ first goal in two years and Missouri’s first goal from the run of play since Aug. 19 against Iowa State. Its two most recent goals had been on the penalty and on an own goal.

“We have to give it that 1 percent more, each player on the team try to do that 1 percent more they’ve done in the past games,” Lewis said. “If we all do that 1 percent more, we can come out with a win.”

The Tigers will host Kentucky Thursday at 6 p.m. to begin their SEC schedule, and will wrap up nonconference play next Sunday with a home game against Portland State.

“These last couple games don’t mean anything to us anymore,” Coons said. “We’re just getting started, and we’re ready for SEC [play].”

Edited by Bennett Durando | bdurando@themaneater.com

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