Mizzou soccer sneaks past Illinois in overtime

Late heroics from Melanie Donaldson carry Mizzou over Illinois.

For the second straight game, the Missouri soccer team headed into overtime after 90 minutes of missed opportunities. After outshooting Illinois 24-7, Mizzou once again found themselves giving up a late, game tying goal in the second half.

“It kinda frustrates us sometimes when we have a lot of shots and they aren’t going in,” sophomore Lauren Gaston said. “Our confidence is high; it just makes us realize we can actually get goals from this.”

But none of those mistakes mattered after Mizzou’s Melanie Donaldson gave the Tigers (2-1) a 3-2 win off her penalty kick in the 95th minute.

The scoring started quickly with Illinois’ Nicole Breece scoring an unassisted strike. After this followed a wide range of missed opportunities for the Tigers. Missed shots, two offside calls, and an incredible empty net save prevented Mizzou from scoring.

But the shots were there.

“Obviously getting the ball on net is a huge thing for us,” senior Melanie Donaldson said.

But what separated this game offensively was the lack of corner kicks. After having 21 in the first two games, Mizzou didn’t have their first corner kick until the 39th minute. The corner kick led to the Tigers’ first goal, as Gaston scored her first career goal, assisted by Erin Webb and Grace Kitts.

“I was just hoping to get any type of touch on it,” Gaston said. “In practice we have really been focusing on second balls.”

With the start of the second half came a return to Mizzou’s style of play, controlling the ball and being the aggressor offensively.

“I did see the growth from practice, after that hard lost, they really practiced hard, they wanted to get better and got after it,” coach Bryan Blitz said.

That practice translated into freshman Sarah Luebbert scoring with 11 minutes left in regulation.

“That’s her job: to score,” Blitz said. “She has a nose for the goal, and that is why I recruited her.”

Luebbert is tied at two with Donaldson for the most goals on the team.

It was like a flashback, as Mizzou gave up the lead in the 82nd minute, forcing overtime. The same thing happened against Iowa on Aug. 21, as the Tigers surrendered a late goal and forfeit up all the momentum heading into overtime.

“It’s a lesson from last week, I was really proud,” Blitz said. “Not at the mistake we made a mistakes at the end, but the way we bounced back.”

The Illinois game was a different story. Mizzou had Illinois on their heels early in overtime, culminating in an Illinois foul. This gave Donaldson a penalty kick and Mizzou the win.

“I was pretty comfortable taking it,” Donaldson said. “I just knew to be calm and do what I’ve been doing leading up to that moment.”

This is her second straight game with a goal, with two this year Donaldson is bound to break last year’s total of three goals.

“We learned from last week and we continued to fight all the way through,” Blitz said.

Mizzou returns to the pitch on Sunday, Aug. 28 at home against Colorado. The Tigers look to give the Buffalo’s their first loss on the year.

Edited by Peter Baugh | pbaugh@themaneater.com

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