Senior class leaves a legacy with Missouri soccer

Work ethic defines Mizzou soccer’s seniors.
Missouri Tigers defender Jasmine Johnson (26) winds up to clear the ball Aug. 23, 2015. Maneater File Photo

Coach Bryan Blitz has an interesting comparison for his team: a popular Rihanna pop song.

“Work, work, work; that’s what they do,” Blitz said. “They are overachievers… they always do more.”

Friday’s 2-1 victory over Vanderbilt meant much more than solidifying Missouri’s standing in the Southeastern Conference. It also served as senior night, honoring five women whose impact on the team will carry on past their time in the Mizzou soccer program.

“It was definitely emotional,” senior Jasmine Johnson said. “At the end of the day it is a game. So we have to come out and we have to win.”

Freshman Sarah Luebbert had high praise for the senior class.

“This senior class is a great group of leaders,” she said.

Senior night carried emotions that developed over the course of four seasons playing for Blitz.

“I feel honored and proud to coach these kids,” Blitz said.

Seniors Lauren Selaiden, Erin Webb, Rachel Hignett, Melanie Donaldson and Jasmine Johnson will leave a legacy of no nonsense and hard work at Mizzou.

“As Blitz will say, we are a blue-collar team,” Johnson said. “We’ll work our asses off for a win.”

The seniors downplayed the night, despite the importance and realization that their time at Mizzou was coming to an end. Instead, they focused on the game itself.

“It was about the game,” Hignett said. “We just wanted to come out and play for the team.”

Blitz was happy with the team’s mindset going into the game.

“We call ourselves farmers,” Blitz said. “Get up earlier than everybody else and go to bed later than anyone else.”

That mentality is evident through Mizzou’s play this year. Led by the seniors, this year’s Tigers have a distinct style: being a smothering defense and a relentless onslaught on the opposing team’s goalie.

Selaiden believes that this mentality starts with the seniors.

“We’ve always been the class that makes sure everyone starts behind the line if we are running, everyone touches every single line and you do every rep,” she said. “We kinda set that standard that we are always going to put in the work. No matter how hard it is, because we see where it can take us.”

The senior’s work has put the Tigers in a prime position nearing the end of this season. Mizzou (10-4-1, 5-2-1) has two major matchups left this season: Arkansas (third in SEC) and Florida (fifth in SEC).

This year, the five seniors want to build on last year’s defeat in the SEC Tournament.

“We were disappointed in how the season went last year,” Blitz said. “These seniors were like, ‘We need to work harder, we need to do more.’”

The seniors took on this challenge, and they think they’ve succeeded in creating a culture that demands hard work to improve.

”When we leave, people are always going to remember us yelling and encouraging people, and making sure people do things right.”

Fans can catch the seniors’ last game at home on Thursday, Oct. 27 at 8 p.m against the Florida Gators.

Edited by Peter Baugh | pbaugh@themaneater.com

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