Report card: Missouri soccer mid-season grades
Langston Newsome grades Mizzou’s play heading into the meat of the team's SEC schedule.
Oct. 08, 2016
Soccer writer Langston Newsome grades Mizzou soccer (8-4-1, 3-2-1) in a midseason report card.
The biggest win of the season came against Weber State. The Wildcats are nowhere near the best team the Tigers have faced, but avoiding back-to-back losses while down three starters was huge for this team. Mizzou won 3-1 and saw the emergence of Allie Hess. Since that game, Hess has produced three goals and one assist, including the game winner against Mississippi State in extra time.
None of Mizzou’s losses have been ugly. However, there are two obvious losses that shouldn’t have happened: Iowa and Tennessee. Both teams are currently 7-6 and capitalized on Mizzou at weak points in the season. In the second game of the season, Iowa was able to narrowly beat Mizzou 2-1 in OT, before the Tigers really had an identity on both sides of the ball. Tennessee beat Mizzou in its first game without four starters. It was clear the Tigers had a tough time adjusting offensively without Sarah Luebbert and Kaitlyn Clark, as Mizzou was shutout 0-2.
Mere stats don’t do the Mizzou offense justice. With an average of just over 20 shots per game, Mizzou is fifth in the NCAA and first in the Southeastern Conference in total shots. Mizzou can’t be denied from creating scoring opportunities; 42.5 percent of these shots were on goal, leaving the Tigers at eighth in the nation for shots on goal per game (12). Despite impressive numbers in creating quality opportunities to score, actually putting the ball in the net is where Mizzou tends to struggle. The Tigers are fifth in the SEC in goals (25) and constantly leave you thinking that they should score more.
Defensively, Mizzou makes its mark early in each match; the Tigers press and are very aggressive. When locked in, Mizzou defensively is a force to be reckoned with. However, statistically Mizzou is in the middle of the pack of the SEC. Mizzou is sixth in goals allowed (14). Mizzou is also 13th in saves, but that is more of a reflection of how rarely goalie Kelsey Dossey is tested.
Off-the-field issues: D
Sarah Luebbert, Kaitlyn Clark and Bethany Coons were the three suspended starters who missed an important SEC game against Tennessee. Although Mizzou went 1-1 in their absence, you can’t help but think there would be a different outcome against UT. Also, Luebbert’s suspension puts an asterisk on what has been a remarkable freshman year; she is a two-time SEC Freshman of the Week, and leads the team in goals (6) and shots (34). It would be interesting to see her offensive numbers with two more games, especially against a low-tier team like Weber State.
Edited by David Reynolds | firstname.lastname@example.org