Kicking into the postseason
Tiger soccer hosts NCAA tournament in Columbia
Sophomore forward Michelle Collins and her Tiger teammates have the 11th ranked offense in the country heading into the NCAA tournament. Photo courtesy of Intercollegiate Athletics.
There’s more than one winning “football” team in Columbia.
Coach Bryan Blitz and his 23rd-ranked soccer team, with a 13-7 record so far this season, have tied for the second-most wins in program history. Now they’re getting a chance to shoot for the record as they host the first and second rounds of the NCAA tournament Nov. 16 and 18. In round one, Mizzou plays Ohio Valley Conference champs Southeast Missouri State University at 7 p.m. in Walton Stadium, after Southern California faces Creighton at 4 p.m.
With no seniors on the team and with the team’s last appearance in the NCAAs being in 2003, the NCAA tournament experience will be brand-new for all Mizzou players. Blitz doesn’t think that’s a problem, though.
“I think that the schedule we played throughout the year — playing No. 1, and No. 2, and 3 and 6 and 7 and so on — that helps,” says Blitz, the Big 12 Coach of the Year. “And also just being in the Big 12 conference and playing in the Big 12 tournament, that prepares us for the NCAA tournament. I don’t think they’ll be surprised by anything.”
Being young hasn’t stopped Mizzou players from being good. Sophomore Kristin Andrighetto made the All-Big 12 first team, and freshman Alysha Bonnick was the Big 12 Rookie of the Year. Sophomores Michelle Collins and Meghan Pfeiffer and juniors Kat Tarr and Mo Redmond made the All-Big 12 second team.
“This is a team fans can be proud of,” Blitz says. “Any fans want to see their athletes and players and students give everything they’ve got. That’s something that’s a Missouri trait; we’re going to outwork people.”
Update Nov. 19, 2007: Mizzou advanced past the first round by beating Southeast Missouri State on penalty kicks, then fell in the second round to USC in double overtime.