Not done yet: Missouri soccer defeats Florida, will face South Carolina in quarterfinals

A second-half winner and strong defensive play late helped the Tigers come out on top in a 2-1 finish.

Missouri knocked off the Florida Gators for the second-consecutive time on Sunday and will advance to the quarterfinals of the Southeastern Conference Tournament, winning 2-1 in a close, competitive game.

It was a different type of game against Florida than it was last Sunday. In their previous contest, the Tigers were all over the Gators on the scoresheet and put the game away early in a 5-2 win.

This time, things were different. Florida had a much better defensive showing and didn’t allow Missouri to take advantage of mistakes made in the Gators’ defensive third.

“You have to give credit to Florida,” coach Bryan Blitz said. “It’s so difficult to win in the SEC Tournament – you can’t take any opponent for granted. Our seniors really led us tonight. I thought Macy [Trujillo] and Bella [Alessi] were outstanding. Even Momola [Adesanmi] made a big difference with her play on defense.”

Missouri’s smothering high press made things difficult for the Gators, who played into a strong wind in the first half. The Tigers recorded 13 shots in the first half to Florida’s five, as well as six corners to Florida’s one.

Senior midfielder Macy Trujillo grabbed the opener in the 18th minute. Senior midfielder Bella Alessi played a through ball to Trujillo, who finished to the bottom right corner despite a poor first touch.

Florida equalized just four minutes later, with junior forward Cassidy Lindley getting behind the defense, dribbling around the goalkeeper and making a simple finish to knot the game at one apiece. Sophomore forward Alivia Gonzalez got the assist.

“We remained true to who we are,” Blitz said at halftime. “I’m happy with our depth. Our bench created many opportunities [in the first half.]”

Alessi gave the Tigers their well-deserved second goal in the 72nd minute. Following a scramble in the box, the senior midfielder found the ball at her feet and fired it into the top left corner to take back the lead — this time, for good.

Florida goalkeeper Susi Espinoza made back to back clutch saves early in the second half to preserve the tie. Missouri got a shot on goal, which Espinoza saved. She did spill the ball but made a fantastic reaction save on the second effort.

With three goals in her last two games, Alessi is in form at the perfect time.

As a team, Missouri is in the best form it has been in all season long. It has secured 11 out of its last 15 possible points and is on a three-game winning streak. In these last two matches against Florida, the Tigers recorded 43 shots and scored seven goals.

The Tigers will take on South Carolina on Tuesday in the quarterfinals. The Gamecocks got the three points against Missouri in the season opener, but the Tigers will look to flip the script this time around. Kickoff is scheduled for 8:30 p.m EST.

Edited by Kyle Pinnell | kpinnell@themaneater.com

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