Missouri soccer defeats Northern Colorado 2-1 on Kitts’ overtime winner

Kitts was the hero on Sunday, defeating the Bears on her first goal since 2017.
Missouri players embrace redshirt junior midfielder Grace Kitts following her game-clinching overtime goal on Sunday, Sept. 15 against Northern Colordao. The Tigers won 2-1. Andrew Moore

Grace Kitts wore a headband drenched in sweat and a big smile on her face.

After spending the entirety of last season sidelined by injury and not receiving much playing time to begin this year, the Missouri redshirt junior had finally gotten her breakthrough moment.

Five minutes into the first overtime period on Sunday afternoon, a deflected Missouri shot bounced perfectly out to Kitts, who booted it into the top right corner of the goal to win the match against Northern Colorado by a final score of 2-1.

“I was very excited,” Kitts said. “It felt great, and I knew that the team had worked and deserved the win.”

The Tigers came out of the gates aggressive to begin the match. They had five corner kicks — three in a row — and two shots in the first 30 minutes while dominating possession, but could not manage to score.

With 18 minutes remaining in the first, Missouri sophomore Skye Kingsley darted through an opening in the Bears defense and redirected a well-placed cross from freshman Jadyn Easley into the net to give the Tigers a 1-0 lead.

The play marked the first assist of Easley’s young career, and Kingsley’s third point in the last two matches.

With five minutes remaining in the first half, a bouncing, spinning corner kick off the foot of Northern Colorado’s Olivia Seddon found her teammate, Avery Smith, who sent it into the back of the net to even the match at 1-1. The score held as the teams headed into their locker rooms at half.

The second half would end the same way, with each team unable to capitalize on offensive opportunities. At the 90-second mark, a Northern Colorado shot was slowed by the contact of another player, and made for an easy ground ball save by Missouri goalkeeper Peyton Bauman.

Next, the Tigers were able to pressure the Bears defense, firing off two shots as the clock was down to just seconds, but the first went wide, the second was saved with ease and regulation expired.

Five minutes into the first overtime, a flip throw-in from the Bears led to an opportunity for Northern Colorado to win the game: a bouncing ball in front of goal that was redirected towards the net. However, Bauman dove to her left and made a spectacular grab to save the game.

“We’ve had that conversation, that ‘you have to win us games,’” coach Bryan Blitz said about Bauman’s goalkeeping. “She hadn’t done that yet, she had done routine stuff, but that was a game-winning save. She did it, that’s her first one, and she did what we asked her to do and stepped up.”

Then, Kitts ended the match, and Missouri’s non-conference play, on a high note.

“Grace has been working hard and has been really up and down,” Blitz said. “She was a projected starter so I think she’s been dealing with that, but she stayed mentally tough and got her chance and she put it away. She can score goals, and we’re thankful that she did today.”

With the win, the Tigers finished out the first stretch of their season with a 5-2 record, including a four-game winning streak to begin the season. Missouri’s first Southeastern Conference match of the season takes place in Oxford, Mississippi on Friday against Ole Miss.

Missouri will play 10 SEC games over the next month and a half, concluding its regular season on Halloween against Mississippi State at home before the SEC Tournament. Although the Tigers currently have a favorable record, Blitz knows that conference play will not be easy.

“Now it’s the meat-grinder of the SEC,” he said.

Edited by Emily Leiker | eleiker@themaneater.com

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