Missouri earns hard fought draw to open SEC play

The Tigers had previously been 7-0 in SEC openers before ending Friday night in an overtime tie.

After battling through a game that saw Ole Miss (6-2-1, 0-0-1 SEC) hit the frame of the goal several times and have another apparent goal not given in overtime, Missouri (6-2-1, 0-0-1 SEC) managed to force a draw against the Rebels in their SEC opener.

Throughout the early moments of the first half, each side created several chances, but through strong goalkeeping from both Missouri’s redshirt sophomore Peyton Bauman and Ole Miss’ Ashley Orkus neither team was able to find a breakthrough early on.

Gradually throughout the first half, Ole Miss started to control the game more. It really started to put on the pressure in the 19th minute when junior Channing Foster unleashed a shot from 25 yards out that rocketed off the crossbar.

Just minutes later, the Rebels had a better chance as a cross made its way across the face of the Tiger net toward junior Madisyn Pezzino. With the entire face of the goal wide open, junior Momola Adesanmi made a last ditch sliding tackle to deflect the ball up and over the bar and preserve the 0-0 scoreline.

Then, in the 41st minute, it was freshman Jenna Kemp’s turn to rattle the woodwork as her shot, following a nifty overhead flick from Pezzino, beat everything but the crossbar.

Ole Miss would finally find a breakthrough with just under 30 seconds remaining in the half when junior Molly Martin picked up the ball just outside the eighteen and dribbled past a couple of Tiger defenders before finishing low into the bottom right corner.

The start of the second half saw Ole Miss keep its foot on the gas as sophomore Maddy Houghton hit the crossbar for a third time just three minutes into the half.

Next, the Rebels would see a shot come off the post in the 72nd minute as Pezzino dragged her shot across the face of goal only to see it come back off the far post to prevent Ole Miss from doubling its lead.

The inability to find the crucial second goal would come back to bite Ole Miss as sophomore Blythe Beldner managed to get on the end of junior Lindsey Whitmore’s cross in the 77th minute to draw Missouri level. The goal is the first of the sophomore forward’s career and also brought Missouri’s goal total to 17 on the season, already one more than the amount it scored all of last season.

Missouri would have to survive a late scare though as Bauman was forced to make another save down to her right to prevent Pezzino from scoring a late winner in the 83rd minute. Bauman’s save took the game into overtime.

In the first overtime period, the Tigers would benefit from a bit of luck.

In the 95th minute, it appeared as if Foster had scored. The referee signaled to play on, though the ball was shown to have fully crossed the line in replays the decision could not be overturned due to a lack of goal line technology and the decision earlier this year to not implement Video Assistant Referee into league play.

Almost immediately following that sequence in front of the Missouri net, Whitmore found herself in a one on one against Orkus down at the other end of the field but failed to get a shot by the goalkeeper allowing Orkus to keep the score level at 1-1.

The rest of the first period of overtime would pass rather uneventfully as would much of the second period, but in the 108th minute Missouri would survive one last scare as Foster would hit the crossbar yet again.

The draw preserves Missouri’s undefeated record in SEC openers, but it is the first time that it has failed to win the opening match of conference play having previously gone 7-0 in those matches.

“A point is a point,” coach Bryan Blitz said in a press release. “When you get to SEC play, it turns into a math equation. We’ll take however many points we get, especially one on the road.”

Edited by Emily Leiker | eleiker@themaneater.com

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