The Missouri women’s soccer team left San Antonio, Texas, as Big 12 Conference Champions.
They were only missing the trophy. That prize was on its way to Columbia in a minivan driven by parents of two players on the team.
“We didn’t want to take chances with it breaking or anything like that,” Missouri soccer coach Bryan Blitz said by phone Sunday night. “It’s seat-belted in the backseat of a car and being driven home. We think it’s in good hands.”
The Tigers defeated Colorado 1-0 Sunday. The victory gave them an automatic bid for the NCAA Division I Championship.
Midfielder Mo Redmond scored the game’s only goal in the sixth minute.
“It was kind of a blur,” she said. “The ball popped out in the box and I thought, ‘I should shoot this ball, it’s close to the goal.’ Not until after the game did I realize that I scored the game-winning goal.”
This victory continues a record-setting season for Missouri (15-5-1). The Tigers set a team-record for regular season wins with 13 and conference victories with seven. They also won the Big 12 tournament for the first time in team history.
Missouri’s victory Sunday gave the school its third Big 12 championship in school history. The other two came from the 1997 softball team, which won the regular season championship and tournament championship.
“We’re going to celebrate until tomorrow (Monday) at 7 p.m.,” Blitz said.
That’s when the team will gather for a watch party for the NCAA Division I selection show at D. Rowe’s, a restaurant in Columbia. This will be MU’s second consecutive trip to the NCAA tournament.
Last season, the Tigers advanced to the second round where they fell to the eventual-champion USC Trojans in a double-overtime loss. Blitz expects this season to produce different results.
“I think this team has the potential to go much further,” he said. “We’ve worked hard since last fall, so we were able to set our goals high. That game helped our program as a whole.”
Blitz also credits the maturity the team gained by having six seniors this year after having none last season.