Mizzou soccer fights back from deficit to defeat Central Arkansas

The Tigers came back from a 2-0 deficit.
Mizzou tiger number 27, Jessica Johnson changes directions with the ball before passing it on a teammate during Missouri's first home game of the season facing the Central Arkansas Bears at the Audrey J. Walton soccer stadium on Friday, August 19.

Coach Bryan Blitz admits it didn’t go quite as planned, but the women’s soccer team overcame an early deficit to start their season off in the win column with a 3–2 victory over Central Arkansas.

“To have them fight back, I didn’t design that,” Blitz said. “Was it how we drew it up? No. But we wanted to get the win and we like how they fought back.”

Despite controlling possession and taking more shots than Central Arkansas, the Tigers found themselves down quickly in the early stages of the first half. A quick goal by Central Arkansas coupled with an own goal from the Tigers created a 2–0 deficit 23 minutes into the game on only one shot from the Sugar Bears.

After the initial goals from Central Arkansas, junior Jessica Johnson and her teammates remained energetic and did not allow their opposition’s lead to dishearten them.

“These things happen all the time,” Johnson said. “You get down and things happen, but we were just trying to stay positive. Keeping up the intensity and the energy definitely helped us out.”

After relenting two early goals, the Tigers would not let another Central Arkansas shot reach the back of the net. A goal from senior Lauren Selaiden kicked off a streak of goals from Mizzou’s offense.

All told, the Tigers scored three goals on an impressive 24 shots. They only scored three goals three times last season, the most recent being on Oct. 18 in a winning effort against Tennessee.

This scoring display is promising for a Mizzou soccer team that often struggled to provide goal support for their defense last season. Blitz believes this difference lies in this year's increased depth, as well as the specific abilities this year’s roster brings to the table.

“We have some younger players that might have more of [a scoring] skillset,” he said. “I think that’s the difference.”

Johnson also recognized the team’s ability to take and make shots during the first game of the season. She believes their offensive performance all came down to guts.

“I think we were just risky,” she said. “Taking shots and placing them on the goal we’ve been working on in practice a lot. We just have to have the composure to finish it and we did that today.”

While Blitz was proud of his team for fighting back, he recognizes that, once the team begins Southeastern Conference competition, they will not be able to make the early mistakes they made against Central Arkansas and expect to allow their heart and improved offense to bring them back.

“We have to start fast and we have to be dialed in,” he said. “Once we get into SEC play there is no way that we can get down that way and make a miracle comeback. Maybe once or twice, but not every time.”

The Tigers will play their next game against the Iowa Hawkeyes of the Big Ten Sunday at 1 p.m. The game will be at home in Walton Stadium and will also be broadcasted on SEC Network +.

Edited by Peter Baugh | pbaugh@themaneater.com

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