Missouri gets back to winning ways in 2-1 triumph over Mississippi

The Tigers remain unbeaten against the Rebels since joining the SEC in 2012.
Forward Bella Alessi steals the ball from Northwestern midfielder Regan Steigleder during a match on August 30, 2018 at Audrey J. Walton Stadium.

After the final whistle blew on Thursday night, one Missouri Tiger was probably the happiest person in Walton Stadium, or maybe in Columbia.

“I felt everything freeze, in all honesty,” freshman forward Julissa Cisneros said. “But I wanted to hug every single one of my teammates.”

The first two goals of Cisneros’ college career earned Mizzou a 2-1 win over Mississippi (8-5-1, 2-2-1 SEC), giving the Tigers (5-6-2, 2-2-1) a vital boost in the race for SEC Tournament qualification.

Cisneros opened the scoring in the 12th minute, after a cross into the box was headed first by a defender and then by Missouri junior Sarah Luebbert. Luebbert’s header fell to Cisneros, who nodded the ball past Ole Miss goalkeeper Marnie Merritt.

At that point, the run of play turned in the Rebels’ favor for the remainder of the first half. The talented Ole Miss offense, led by midfielder Cece Kizer, the school’s all-time record goalscorer, pushed for an equalizer but couldn’t get past Missouri’s physical defensive play and a couple of strong saves by Kelsey Dossey.

“[Ole Miss] picked it up a notch,” Missouri coach Bryan Blitz said. “It turned at that point. We held on, and we bent [but] didn’t break in the first half.”

The Tigers, who have been much stronger on defense than in attack all season, almost seemed content to sit on their lead and defend rather than push for a second goal. At halftime, Mississippi held a 9-1 shot advantage despite trailing 1-0.

In the 47th minute, an Ole Miss corner kick found the forehead of Ella Frischknecht, who placed a header through Dossey’s legs to tie the game.

“I just said, ‘Hey, let’s just get back to what we’re doing. We’ve been down in these situations before,’” Blitz said.

The equalizer seemed to serve as a wakeup call for the Tiger offense, which roared back to life with six shots in the next 10 minutes of play. Most of the second half was lively with both teams seeing plenty of chances, but no one could break through until Cisneros’ winner in the 86th minute.

As Luebbert attacked the Ole Miss box, she was confronted by two defenders and passed the ball back to an unmarked Cisneros, who had a clear shot across the face of goal to beat Merritt. A few minutes of defense later, the Tigers finished off their first SEC win since Sept. 13.

Missouri is now tied with Ole Miss and Florida for sixth in the conference standings. The top 10 teams will advance to the conference tournament, but the Tigers face a daunting schedule in their final five games. After a crucial trip to Louisiana State on Sunday, three nationally ranked teams and Florida will await.

Sunday’s LSU game will likely be Missouri’s best remaining chance to add another win as it pushes for an SEC Tournament berth. The two sets of Tigers will kick off in Baton Rouge, Louisiana at 1 p.m.

Edited by Bennett Durando | bdurando@themaneater.com

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