The Maneater

Missouri soccer looks to turn season around after conference win over Ole Miss

The Tigers have struggled against conference competitors ever since their season opener against Kentucky, but Julissa Cisneros may have jump started a change in momentum.

Forward Bella Alessi steals the ball from Northwestern midfielder Regan Steigleder during a match on August 30, 2018 at Audrey J. Walton Stadium.

Since entering the Southeastern Conference in 2012, Missouri women’s soccer (2-2-1, 5-6-2) has won all seven of its conference openers.

That very first season, the Tigers defeated the Auburn Tigers on the road 2-0, kickstarting a season they would finish 14-7-1. In the years since, Missouri has gone on to win conference openers against Mississippi State, Louisiana, Ole Miss, Georgia and on Sept. 13 of this season, Kentucky.

However, despite their success at opening seasons, the Tigers can’t seem to finish them.

Missouri has appeared in all six SEC tournaments since joining the conference, yet it only has two wins. The first came during the 2012 quarterfinals against Kentucky 2-1 and the second in the first round of 2017 against Alabama 3-1.

This season the Tigers haven’t seemed poised to do much better.

According to the 2018-2019 SEC Commissioner’s Regulations, “the top ten teams with the highest ranking point total, regardless of divisions, will participate in the tournament.” Before the Thursday Oct. 4 game against Ole Miss (2-2-1), Missouri, with only 4 points, would not have made the final cut for the SEC tournament.

After Thursday night’s game, the Tigers skyrocketed.

Freshman Julissa Cisneros led Missouri to a 2-1 with a goal in both halves assisted each time by juniors Anna Frick and Sarah Luebbert. Her first goal of the game and her career came off of a header to the lower left corner during the 11th minute. She then gave the Tigers a lead again in the 85th minute with a shot to the right side of the net.

The game was one of Missouri’s most well-balanced contests of the season, with the Rebels leading shots 15-14 and saves 6-5, while the Tigers led 7-6 in shots on goal.

“It’s crucial,” coach Bryan Blitz said of the conference win. “I liked the grittiness our team showed against a good Ole Miss team...We raised our level.”

Now, as of the completion of all Oct. 4 SEC games, Missouri sits fairly comfortably at seventh out of 14 with seven points. With LSU (1-3-1, 7-5-1) ranked 11th as their next opponent, the Tigers are looking to continue their win streak and stay in position to make a seventh appearance in the SEC tournament at the end of this month.

“We’ll celebrate until twelve tonight and then we gotta get ready for another SEC on the road,” Blitz commented.

The Vanderbilt Commodores currently lead the SEC undefeated in conference and with only one loss overall to Florida State on Aug. 16. They’re tailed closely by Tennessee (4-1-0, 10-1-1) and South Carolina (4-1-0, 9-2).

Edited by Adam Cole | acole@themaneater.com

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