Missouri holds out hope that scoring will improve

Missouri attack looks to move forward from slow start in the early season.
Missouri Tigers midfield Melaine Donaldson (10) winds up to kick the ball Sept. 20, 2015, at Audrey J. Walton Stadium.

Goals have been a hard commodity to come by this season for Missouri.

In the opening nine games of their 2015 campaign, the Tigers have only scored eight goals. In five of their games, the Tigers have not been able to put the ball in the net. In fact, Missouri has not seen a goal in the last 204 minutes it has played.

The struggle for goals has led to questions of how successful Missouri can be as it continues on into Southeastern Conference play. The solution will come in an evaluation of every aspect of the team, coach Bryan Blitz said.

“I think you reevaluate every single thing that you can possibly do,” Blitz said. “I think we reevaluate every single thing just like I’m sure all the other programs would do if they are doing that.”

One solution that could appear for the Tigers is the versatility of their attack. Over the course of the season, Missouri has had 17 players take at least one shot on goal.

“We have a really versatile team when it comes to shots on goal,” sophomore forward Savannah Trujillo said. “It’s better to have a team that has multiple player scoring goals rather than a team that has two main players scoring goals, because that just means that their offense is generating from two players as opposed to our team, which has six or seven players going in the offensive attack.”

This versatility is something Trujillo sees as an issue for teams that play the Tigers.

“It’s a little hard for other teams to mark us because we are so versatile ... anyone can play anywhere pretty much, and you can take shots from anywhere,” Trujillo said. “It’s a surprise for everybody just because you never know when someone is going to take the shot.”

The Tigers are also looking for a connection between the forwards on the team.

“Up top we aren’t really meshing,” senior midfielder Reagan Russell said. “It’s kind of individual right now, so we just need to bring it together as a team and hopefully the goals will come.”

Part of the gap in communication can be attributed to the youth that Missouri has in the attack. The Tigers have played five underclassmen in attacking roles, including two true freshmen.

For Missouri, the youthfulness has come with growing pains.

“Coming in as a freshman is difficult because you’re new; you don’t know the pace of play,” Trujillo said. “I’ve tried to help them in any way possible. Whether it’s telling them to make a certain run or telling them to keep their head up.”

The Tigers eventually believe their scoring will pick up to the pace they expected at the beginning of the season.

“I think honestly just to get a game where we get a couple goals flowing and figure out a little groove,” junior midfielder Melanie Donaldson said. “Once we find a little groove that we can get going that’s working for us, then hopefully that’ll spark in and people will be like, ‘This is a new thing that we have to try.’”

In the end, Missouri is still striving for one thing: a Southeastern Conference championship.

“We are after an SEC championship and we want to make it to the NCAA’s and go on from there,” Trujillo said. “We all want that winning mentality, and we know we have the talent and the drive. We just have to put it all into play.”

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