Story by Andrew Wamboldt
Photos by Derek Klein
It all looked like it was all over for Missouri as goalkeeper McKenzie Sauerwein pulled herself up from the ground after a failed save attempt. Kansas had gotten the goal they needed to assure victory when reserve Caroline Kastor headed midfielder Whitney Berry’s corner kick into the net in the 82nd minute to give Kansas a 2-0 lead.
Missouri wasn’t okay with making that the story of what could be the final Big 12 game between the two rivals. Missouri scored three goals in the final six minutes of the game to overcome what seemed to be an insurmountable lead. Instead of leaving the field as a deflated team dominated by their biggest rival, the Missouri players stayed on the field to jump around and hug each other in celebration of their improbable 3-2 victory.
“I just can’t believe this is real life,” Missouri senior Kelsey Blincow said. “This is probably the craziest comeback I’ve ever been a part of.”
All three of Missouri’s seniors played an important role in Missouri’s comeback effort. Senior forward Kendra Collins got the comeback started after she curved a shot over Kansas goalkeeper Kaitlyn Stroud in the 85th minute.
Forty-one seconds later, senior defender Mallory Stipetich blasted a header from a cross sent into the box on a Kaysie Clark free kick past the Kansas goalkeeper, tying the game.
“I just kept going, ‘I can’t believe that went in,’” Stipetich said. “I’m a defender and I haven’t scored since like my freshman year and I was just like, ‘I can’t believe that happened.’”
Minutes later, Missouri forward Alyssa Diggs made a run towards the goal and was fouled in the box, giving Missouri a penalty kick.
“We were interested in who was going to take the penalty kick,” Missouri coach Bryan Blitz said. “Blincow stepped up and took it. That’s what seniors do.”
Once again, it was a Missouri senior with an opportunity to help Missouri get the win.
“At first I just kind of jumped and was so excited that we got the PK, and then I was like, ‘oh, I might have to take this,’” Blincow said. “Then Danny (Graville), one of our assistant coaches, got my attention on the sideline, and said, ‘You go.’ I was the chosen one I guess.”
Blincow said she knew where she was going to place the ball when she stepped up to take the penalty kick. She apparently picked a good spot as she zipped a shot into the left side-netting.
“To come back from that is a pure show of heart, guts, and grit,” Blitz said.
It was the offense that stole the show and set the crowd on fire with their late flurry of goals, but coach Blitz looked to the play in goal as one of the biggest reasons for Missouri escaping with the victory. Sauerwein faced 17 shots on goal in the game, making a career high 15 saves.
“All year long she’s won us games, and I think she did it again today with that last part,” Blitz said. “That was literally world class, that kid’s a world class player.”
Missouri improved to 12-6-0 on the season and 3-4-0 in Big 12 play. They passed rival Kansas in the Big 12 standings as Kansas dropped to 2-4 in conference play.
With Missouri exploring options to potentially leave the Big 12 Conference, this could be the last game between the two teams as Big 12 rivals. If it is, Missouri couldn’t have found a much better way to leave their biggest conference rival.
“We had to go out big,” Diggs said. “We couldn’t just let them walk all over us and then be the last game we ever played them. We had to go out like this, this is the perfect way to go out if we go out.”