Going into halftime in their season opener against the University of Illinois, Missouri women’s soccer trailed 1-0, but three second-half goals gave the Tigers a 3-1 victory in Champaign on Friday night.
The first half of the match was back and forth, as neither team created any clear-cut chances to score. Sophomore Arianna Veland gave the Illini the lead entering halftime on a messy play in the penalty box. After her teammates’ two initial shots were blocked by the Missouri defense, Veland fired the rebound into the back of the net, scoring on the Illini’s first shot on goal.
However, the Tigers quickly took control of the game four minutes into the second half when freshman Macy Trujillo scored her first goal of her Mizzou career, a right-footed chip shot from 17 yards out over Illinois keeper Jaelyn Cunningham.
"I wasn't expecting [to score a goal]," Trujillo said in a press release. "I went into today's game wanting to leave it all on the field. The first goal uplifted everyone.”
Once Missouri drew level, the Tigers controlled the rest of the second half. Missouri outshot Illinois 12-4 after halftime, with six shots on goal compared to only one for the Illini.
The Illini's one shot on goal was a dangerous one, though, coming on a deep free kick from the left side of the pitch, forcing keeper Kelsey Dossey to make a diving save to her left side.
After that chance, Missouri shut the Illini down for the remainder of the game, creating all the chances from then on. Trujillo, one of the only two freshmen to start for Missouri, almost added a second goal for Missouri in the 77th minute, but her header was saved off the line.
In the following minute, though, senior Jessica Johnson finally put the Tigers ahead for good, getting on the end of a cross from reigning Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Year Sarah Luebbert and firing a shot off the right post into the net.
Prior to the goal, the Tigers had been keeping constant pressure on the Illini, and that didn’t change after the late equalizer. In the 84th minute, redshirt sophomore Madison Lewis chested down a pass from sophomore Peyton Joseph and scored to put the game away for good.
Missouri, who was ranked 4th in the SEC preseason poll, starts the season 1-0-0. The Tigers will play their home opener Sunday against Iowa State. The match will be broadcast live at 4:00 p.m. on the SEC Network as well as on Watch ESPN.
Edited by Eli Lederman | email@example.com