Soccer knocks off its first ranked opponent

Coach Bryan Blitz said it was the Tigers' best game this season.
Junior Forward Michelle Collins fights for the ball with Colorado senior midfielder Alex Cousins on Friday at Walton stadium. The Tigers defeated the 15th-ranked Buffaloes 1-0.

Missouri's soccer team had enough scoring chances to put up a touchdown against No. 17 Colorado,  Friday night at Walton Stadium. The Tigers had seven shots on goal, almost all of them excellent strikes that hit a post or sailed just past the goal.

But junior forward Kristin Andrighetto was the only player to find the net. Her goal in the second minute, which resulted from a disorganized Colorado defense, gave MU a 1-0 win and its first victory this season against a ranked opponent.

"I was even confused," Andrighetto said of the goal, which tied her with sophomore forward Alysha Bonnick for the team lead. "I didn't think there was anyone around me, so I just kicked it in. It went through the goalie's legs, so that was even more baffling."

Maybe the only thing more surprising was that Missouri, 7-3 (2-1), didn't add another goal. A Colorado defender fouled Andrighetto inside the 18-yard box in the 63rd minute, but Andrighetto's resulting penalty kick was blocked by Colorado goalkeeper Kirstin Radlinski. 

The Tigers had a handful of opportunities in the game's final 25 minutes, but they couldn't convert.

"We're never concerned unless we're not creating chances," coach Bryan Blitz said. "They're good enough players. They'll finish their chances."

Blitz said MU needed the win to bounce back after losing 3-2 in double overtime last Sunday at Nebraska. He said Friday's win was the Tigers' best game this season.

"We haven't done that (score early)," Blitz said. "It's always nice to score early, but the reaction after the score was the best thing about this game. We kept playing all the way until the end of the game."

Colorado, 8-2-2 (2-1-1), came in unbeaten in its last nine games but failed to muster many scoring chances. The Colorado attack, anchored by U.S. U-20 National Team member Nikki Marshall, was ineffective the entire game. 

Colorado's best chance came in the 84th minute, when Caroline Danneberg found herself open in front of the goal and fired a shot. But junior goalkeeper Tasha Dittamore made a diving save to preserve MU's lead.

"I think the reason she saves so many great shots is because she's willing to come out and dive and block the ball," junior defender Crystal Wagner said. 

The communication among Dittamore, Wagner and the rest of Missouri's defenders was the best it's been all season. Colorado came into the game first among Big 12 teams with 255 shots, but the Buffaloes managed just nine against Missouri.

Nineteen Tigers saw action against Colorado, and Blitz said MU's depth was key to the win.

"We have very good players that would start at a lot of places, and right now they're coming off the bench," Blitz said. "They've learned to excel in that role, and that makes us dangerous as the game wears on."

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