Missouri soccer falls to No. 7 USC Trojans in a physical game

The Tigers surrendered two goals in eight minutes during the second half in the loss.
Following a misplaced scoring opportunity, junior Kaitlyn Clark trots back to defend against an upcoming goalie kick in August 2016. Maneater File Photo

After suffering a loss against No. 14 Nebraska last Sunday, Missouri soccer was looking to bounce back Friday against defending national champion the USC Trojans. After fighting hard in a strong first half, the Tigers fell to the No. 7 Trojans 2-0 in Columbia.

Mizzou (2-2-1) had an encouraging first half, matching the Trojans’ talent with physical play, and out-fouled the Trojans 9-2. In the 35th minute, Tigers midfielder Kaitlyn Clark fired a promising shot from outside the box that was tipped off the crossbar by USC goalkeeper Kaylie Collins. On the ensuing corner kick, sophomore Grace Kitts headed the ball into the ground, but USC defender Julia Bingham was able to save it off the line.

There was a controversial moment in the eighth minute when Missouri freshman Tess Rellihan appeared to be brought down inside the box. Both teams set up for a penalty kick before referee Tori Penso signalled for a free kick right outside the box, which was sent over the bar.

Things went downhill quickly for the Tigers after halftime, however, when 28 seconds into the half, USC’s Tara McKeown received a cross in the box from Sydney Myers and hit a first-time shot that slowly rolled into the back of the net past Tigers goalkeeper Kelsey Dossey, putting USC ahead 1-0.

The Trojans quickly doubled their lead in the 52nd minute, with McKeown once again involved. Trojans midfielder Savannah Demelo delivered the ball to McKeown in the box, who then slotted it into the back of the net for her first career goal, giving USC a 2-0 lead.

Once the Trojans took the lead, they never looked back, outshooting the Tigers 10 to five in the second half. They were dominant in the midfield, controlling possession and creating the majority of chances.

“As a team, we never gave up; it was a great learning process,” Missouri senior midfielder Kaitlyn Clark said. “Playing the number-one team is a great learning opportunity.”

Despite taking the loss, Tigers head coach Bryan Blitz felt playing the national champion was a learning moment for his young team.

“Compared to last week’s performance, we learned a lot,” Blitz said. “If you take the eight minutes away, I think that was a lesson. I was proud of the kids’ effort. They have got to learn quick [that] when you play the national champion, you can’t give up two goals that quick.”

The Tigers will look to snap a two-game losing streak Sunday when they travel to Fort Worth, Texas, to take on TCU at 7 p.m. The game will be broadcast on Fox Sports Southwest.

Edited by Eli Lederman | elederman@themaneater.com

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