COLUMBIA — Forward Kristin Andrighetto stood 5 yards outside of the opponent’s box, perfectly poised to send the Missouri women’s soccer team into the next round of the NCAA tournament with her free kick.
The clock was paused with 12 seconds left in double overtime with the scored tied at 1. The crowd of 548 on Sunday at Walton Stadium was hushed in anticipation. The whistle blew, the clock started, the ball sailed toward the far post where Alysha Bonnick, the Tigers’ top scorer, was stationed — but her header missed.
After both Missouri and Illinois failed to score in overtime, the winner had to be decided by penalty kicks.
Freshman Kelsey Blincow was the first Tigers player to convert. Illinois goalkeeper Alexandra Kapicka blocked the second Missouri shot taken by sophomore Kat Tarr. Bonnick and junior Bree Thornton then converted Missouri’s third and fourth penalty kicks.
After Illinois midfielder Courtney Bell scored against Tigers goalkeeper Tasha Dittamore, Illinois led 4-3. The Tigers had one kick and one chance left: senior goalkeeper Mallory Forst, who has spent the majority of the season on the bench.
“Penalty kicks are kind of my strong point,” Forst had said on Thursday.
All eyes were on Forst as she walked up to the ball 20 yards away from Kapicka. At the whistle, she pounded a shot straight into the hands of Kapicka.
Illinois’ victory sends them into the next round of the tournament, while Missouri ends a record-breaking season at 16-5-2. The victory total is the most in the program’s history. Other records included wins at home (10), fewest losses (five), shutouts (12), fewest goals allowed (19), lowest goals against average (0.80), most shots (515), shots on goal (234) and corner kicks (161). The Tigers’ current streak of scoring in their past 20 games is also a team record.
Missouri freshman Mallory Stipetich notched the Tigers’ sole regulation goal from 15 yards out in the 74th minute of Sunday’s game. Illinois scored just 18 minutes earlier when forward Chichi Nweke fired a shot past Dittamore to the lower post.
“Once Illinois scored their goal, we had them on their heels. We weren’t going down without a fight,” Missouri captain Mo Redmond said. “It was not our day, luck was not on our side.”
Redmond is one of six seniors the Tigers will be losing this year. The dynamic of team, who won this season’s Big 12 tournament, will be changing dramatically.
“I want to congratulate our seniors for a great season and setting a standard that we will work hard to live up to next year and try to surpass.” Missouri coach Bryan Blitz said. “When all is said and done, this is the winningest senior class.”