Missouri soccer falls victim early to BYU in one-sided affair

The Cougars demonstrated their offensive prowess in a dominant performance against the Tigers.

Spectators could hear Missouri soccer players shout the phrase “Clean it up!” through the entire match against No. 14 Brigham Young.

But the Tigers could not, in fact, clean it up.

In a 3-0 loss to the Cougars on Wednesday, Missouri seemed to be out of the game after only 18 minutes. Despite the tough defeat, Coach Bryan Blitz wasn’t surprised with the result.

“I think BYU is going to be a final four team, I’ll be shocked if they aren’t,” Blitz said. “We’re not there yet, we still have a lot of work to do.”

The Tigers’ frustration set in early and lingered for the majority of the match. Nothing clicked. The usual overwhelming pressure tactics that Missouri likes to employ just weren’t there. BYU’s physical and defensive play prevented the Tigers from locking them into their defensive half.

Missouri and BYU matched up evenly at the start, but that only lasted 15 minutes. That’s all the fight Missouri managed to put up.

The Cougars boxed Missouri into its defensive third. With quick passes and intelligent movement off the ball, it was only a matter of time before BYU struck.

In the 18th minute, unmarked BYU senior forward Makaylie Call received the ball, redirected a short cross on the edge of the 6-yard box — over the head of scrambling sophomore goalkeeper Isabella Alessio — and nailed the inside of the opposite post. With Alessio out of the play, sophomore forward Bella Folino easily tapped it in.

BYU found the net twice in quick succession in the second half. In the 50th and 52nd minutes, senior forward Mikayla Colohan — who the Orlando Pride drafted in the 2021 NWSL Draft — made it look easy as she slotted two goals past sophomore goalkeeper McKenna Sheehan.

“[Colohan] is a special kid; she’s already been drafted,” Blitz said. “When you have a special player like that, it makes all the difference in the world.”

The Tiger’s irritation grew as players began arguing with referees over every small infraction. Sophomore midfielder Eryka McIntyre earned a yellow card for a dangerous, and seemingly intentional, late tackle on a Cougar.

Missouri’s defense had solid moments but consistently found themselves entrapped by BYU’s relentless pressure. With the graduation of defender Grace Kitts, the Tiger’s defense needed to find ways to plug the holes.

“We had multiple graduations, — we now have Cass [Nurnberger] who’s usually at midfield, now she’s a center back,” Blitz said. “So for us, it’s almost like we have a new team. We have a couple starters and we’re playing a lot of freshmen, who are very talented, but just don’t have that experience.”

Missouri, a team that usually dominates the game in shots, found themselves on the receiving end of a BYU onslaught. The Tigers were limited to 14 shots, compared to the Cougar’s 29.

“I only get nervous when we can’t create anything,” Blitz said. “It’s hard to score in soccer. It would only concern me if we didn’t have 14 shots against a top 10 team.”

The Tigers’ best scoring opportunity came from a BYU mistake when Missouri senior forward Lindsay Whitmore had a crack at goal aimed for the far bottom corner. BYU freshman defenseman Brooke Hale attempted to clear it, miskicked and had to quickly recover to clear it off the line.

With an extended break between Missouri’s next game, Blitz will look to clean up a few areas in the offense.

“We have a long layoff, so what I think we’ll do is try to work on playing a pro team to get ready,” Blitz said. “So what we’ll work on [offensively] is refining and finishing our opportunities, but I’m not too worried about that.”

The Tiger’s first road game of the spring season will be on March 20 at 2 p.m. against Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana.

Edited by Kyle Pinnell | kpinnell@themaneater.com

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