The Missouri women’s soccer team barely made it.
On Sunday, the Tigers (8-7-3, 4-3-3 Southeastern Conference) clinched a spot in their second straight SEC tournament after tying Tennessee, 1-1. The tournament is scheduled to start Nov. 4 in Orange Beach, Al.
If the tournament started today, Missouri, the eighth seed, would play Arkansas, the ninth seed in a play-in game.
The Tigers, though, are set to wrap up the regular season Thursday in a Halloween match against Arkansas. A win jumps Missouri in the standings, moving the Tigers to the sixth seed and giving them a first round bye. A win would also move the playoff game to Wednesday instead of a Monday, which would give the Tigers a few more days to prepare.
If the Tigers can manage to clinch the sixth seed, they will likely have a rematch with Kentucky, the team Missouri upset in overtime on Friday, 2-1.
“We want to get to that top six spot,” coach Bryan Blitz said. “That’s what we are going for because we would have to play one less game down there.”
The Tigers made a mark in their first SEC tournament last season, going all the way to the finals before falling to Florida, 3-1.
Missouri is currently playing its best soccer this season, as the squad is undefeated in its last four games. Both wins came over top-25 teams South Carolina and Kentucky.
Blitz said this year’s team is peaking at the right time, compared to last year’s team, which lost five out of its final eight games in the regular season.
“Last year at this point … we were in the opposite direction,” Blitz said. “You want to be playing well at the end.”
Despite the Tigers recent good play, this year’s team will be hard-pressed to get an NCAA Tournament bid because the team likely needs to win the SEC Tournament in order to secure a spot at the “big dance.”
While it is tough to gauge the Tigers chances down in Alabama right now, the only game the Tigers are thinking about is Thursday’s showdown in Fayetteville.
“I’m feeling really good going into a game against a tough Arkansas team,” Blitz said. “I know they’re lying they’re waiting for us.”