Mizzou drops first SEC game with loss to Volunteers

Down four starters, Mizzou struggles to impose its will.

The difference between Missouri soccer’s first two Southeastern Conference games was drastic.

Coming off of a 5-0 dismantling of Mississippi, Mizzou (5-3, 1-1) headed into Knoxville without four of the team’s starters.

It clearly showed.

In a 2-0 loss to Tennessee (5-4, 1-1), the Tigers were unable to play their brand of soccer.

Starters Sarah Luebbert, Bethany Coons, Kaitlyn Clark and goalkeeper Kelsey Dossey did not travel to the game. The Maneater reached out to a team spokesperson but was unable to find out why the players didn’t make the trip to Knoxville.

The four starters’ absence was a huge hole offensively for the Tigers, and Mizzou was held scoreless for the second time in three games. The missing starters were the owners of six out of the team’s 18 goals this year.

From the jump, the Tigers looked less aggressive defensively and lacked their normal control over possession. Mizzou also struggled in the first half on set pieces, coming up empty on six corner kicks. Tennessee was not as dominant as the 2-0 score suggests, but Mizzou’s missed opportunities proved to be the difference.

Tennessee’s Michele Christy got the scoring started with a blast from the center of the box in the 31st minute.

Mizzou picked it up in the second half, getting eight shots in the second half. Both teams had 15 shots on the game, but Tennessee was the team to close. In the 67th minute, Mary Alice Vignola chipped in the game sealing goal, which was assisted by Anna Bialczak and Hannah Wilkinson.

The biggest takeaway from the game was that, without two-time Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Week Sarah Luebbert, Mizzou is an entirely different team. However, playing an SEC game without so many starters gave several players experience. Redshirt junior Kristen Rivers played well with four saves at goalkeeper.

Mizzou takes a break from SEC competition until next week. The Tigers take on Weber State on Sept. 18 on Columbia. The team’s next conference game is against Kentucky on Sept. 22.

Edited by Peter Baugh | pbaugh@themaneater.com

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