Missouri soccer improves to 4-0 following Luebbert goal in second overtime

The Tigers beat Xavier on Sunday afternoon in overtime after a late goal by the Musketeers tied the game.
Senior forward Sarah Luebbert celebrates Missouri's 2-1 victory over Cincinnati on Aug. 30. Luebbert was credited with one assist in the win. Andrew Moore

Sarah Luebbert has been there before.

The Missouri senior captain has started every game she’s played as a Tiger, a streak of 62 games dating back to the beginning of her freshman year. She ranks ninth in program history in goals and seventh in game-winners. So when she had a penalty kick opportunity to defeat the Xavier Musketeers in double overtime on Sunday, there wasn’t a lack of confidence.

Her coach, Bryan Blitz, had confidence in her. Her teammates had confidence in her. The fans in the bleachers had confidence in her. Luebbert had confidence in herself.

So when her shot ricocheted off the left post into the back of the net to beat the Musketeers (2-2-1, 0-0 Big East) and win the match for the Tigers (4-0, 0-0 SEC), there was nothing but elation over the 3-2 Missouri victory.

“I knew I was going to be the one to take it, and I didn’t want to hesitate,” Luebbert said. “I just went up to the ball and I reminded myself, ‘you’ve been practicing, you know what to do, just pass it to the corner and set the ball down,’ and I just did my thing.”

It was Luebbert’s second goal of the match and of the season. The Tigers jumped out to an early lead on Luebbert’s first goal, as she scored only a minute and nine seconds into the match.

“It’s extremely important; we always talk about coming out early,” Luebbert said. “That’s something that we didn’t do against Cincinnati [on Thursday] so it was great that we could come out and set the tone early on.”

After Luebbert’s goal, the remainder of the first half was composed of aggressive, yet scoreless play from each team. Eight Missouri fouls and four Xavier shots gave the Musketeers plenty of scoring opportunities, but a solid Missouri defense and two saves by redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Peyton Bauman kept them off the board.

Missouri had a corner kick opportunity in the final seconds of the half, but the shot went high and wide.The teams went into their locker rooms with Missouri leading 1-0.

With 41 minutes left to play, senior defender Peyton Joseph found an opening and capitalized upon it to add to the Missouri lead. It was Joseph’s first career goal in her 61st game as a Tiger, as she has been a staple in Missouri’s backline for the past three years.

“I don’t really think about it that much, but I always thought it would be cool to have a goal in my college career as a defender,” Joseph said. “It’s awesome that I got it done.”

At the 33-minute mark, last week’s Big East Freshman of the Week, Xavier’s Jackie Richards, used her size and strength to battle a Missouri defender and send a shot into the bottom right corner of the net, cutting the Tiger lead in half, 2-1.

Xavier continued its aggression for the next two minutes or so, but Bauman held her ground and made two crucial saves to stop the attack.

The score held for the remainder of the half, and Missouri seemed to have another victory secured. Immediately after the clock hit the one-minute mark, however, a bouncing ball was deflected off Bauman and the crossbar, giving Xavier’s Emily Burton an easy goal and sending the match to a sudden-death overtime.

Each team was able to pressure the opposing defense in the first period of extra time, but there were no real scoring opportunities, and the score remained knotted at two.

Then, six minutes after the start of the second overtime period, Missouri freshman Eryka McIntyre was streaking towards goal when she drew a foul inside the penalty area, setting up Luebbert’s free kick and the Missouri win.

It’s the first 4-0 start since 2012 for the Tigers, which Blitz, Luebbert and Joseph agreed is exciting. However, they refused to get ahead of themselves, acknowledging the season is still new. Missouri will approach the season one game at a time.

Still, after the first goal of her three-plus year career and a major Missouri win, Joseph couldn’t contain her happiness.

“This group that we have right now is unlike any we have had in the past because every year is a different team,” she said. “This year it’s just really special to share it with this group of girls.”

Edited by Emily Leiker | eleiker@themaneater.com

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