By Greg Dailey, KBIA Sports
That was the key word from Missouri players and coaches. The Tigers roared to a 4-3 win double overtime win over Montana after trailing by two goals late in the second half Friday night.
“We were focused,” said junior defender Candace Johnson. “We’ve been working together. We knew that we could do it.”
The victory gave Tigers coach Bryan Blitz his 200th career win at Mizzou.
“It means I’ve had good players,” said Blitz with a laugh.
The win brings Missouri’s record to 4-1-2. Montana fell to 3-4-0.
Johnson’s penalty kick in the 81st minute evened the score at 3 and Taylor Grant finished Kaysie Clark’s pass in the box with five minutes of overtime remaining
The Tigers needed effort from all their players as Montana showed no signs of timidity against an SEC foe. The Grizzlies went on top in the 4th minute, as Chloe Torres snuck a shot past Missouri keeper McKenzie Sauerwein. Montana had an early shot advantage, but Missouri seemed to find an offensive rhythm.
The Tigers had sent a flurry of shots at the Montana goal and in the 24th minute finally found the back of the net. Blitz subbed in Alli Magaletta for Reagan Russell, and the freshman from Chesterfield, Missouri, immediately rewarded her coach’s decision. Savannah Trujillo’s attempt from just inside the box deflected off Montana goalie Kailey Norman and went directly to Magaletta, who finished it.
Neither team scored the rest of the opening half and, although Missouri won the shooting battle 13-6, the score was knotted at 1.
The chilly conditions at Walton Stadium had no effect on the scoring though. Montana came out of the locker room on the offensive, and in the 69th minute took a 2-1 lead. Minutes later, the Grizzlies scored again and suddenly Missouri trailed by two goals.
“All we kept saying was just that we only need one,” Taylor Grant said.
That one came from Melanie Donaldson in the 76th minute as she was set up nicely by Kaysie Clark, setting the stage for the exciting finish.
With Missouri still in need of another goal to send it to overtime, Alli Magaletta drew a foul in the box. Up stepped Johnson to attempt the equalizer.
“I wanted to win,” said Johnson. “Whatever I can do, I’ll do it.”
And she did it, blasting a shot into the lower left-corner past the diving attempt of Norman. Montana nearly went ahead with seconds remaining in regulation, but a shot sailed over the arms of Sauerwein and over the crossbar.
After a scoreless first overtime period, Missouri came through, finishing the match with three consecutive goals.
“It showed we had a lot of heart and we didn’t give up,” said senior midfielder Clark, who assisted two of the Tiger’s four goals.
“We just need to make sure we’re focused right before we start the game,” said Blitz when asked about what the team needs to work on. “We were fortunate that we got a lesson with a win, because sometimes you don’t get that.”
Missouri (4-1-2) returns to Walton Stadium Sunday to face Cal-State Northridge at 12:30 p.m. It’s the last non-conference game before opening its SEC schedule next Friday against LSU. The two Tiger teams face off at Walton Stadium at 6:30 p.m.