After losing three straight road games, the Missouri soccer team got defensive Friday night.
In a 1-0 victory against No. 16 California at Audrey J. Walton Stadium, the Tigers’ defenders stood out.
In the 15th minute, defender Kim Hibbert came from the backfield to collect a pass from forward Kristen Heil. Hibbert beat her defender to the ball and slammed a one-touch shot into the lower left corner, past the outstretched hands of California’s Anna Key.
The goal was the first of the season for Hibbert and Missouri’s defense.
“I wasn’t even expecting to get the ball,” Hibbert said. “I just saw the space and made the run.”
The Tigers continued to rely on their defense in the second half. Megan Duncan made four saves against the Golden Bears (4-2-3) for her second shutout of the season.
California’s physical style created dangerous situations for MU (6-5). The Tigers’ lead seemed in jeopardy in the 76th minute when California’s Lucy Brining put a header from a corner kick inches from the goal line before Duncan made the save.
There was another close call with 13 minutes left when California’s Amy Willison sent a cross through the box that Duncan punched clear.
“I have a lot of confidence in our team,” Duncan said. “We’re a seasoned team; we’ve been through ups, we’ve been through downs, we’ve been tested this season. We know when the game’s on the line and we’re up, what our game plan is.”
The Tigers’ speed helped win the game. Heil had a breakaway that missed wide-left three minutes in. Aria Hudetz sent a shot barely over the net a minute later.
After Hibbert’s goal, the Tigers continued to threaten. With four minutes left before halftime, Karen Bauer made a free kick from 30 yards outside the Golden Bears’ goal. The crowd held its breath as Adriene Davis ran onto the ball and sent a diving header barely left of the net.
“We’ve practiced a few (diving headers) at practice, just goofing around,” Davis said. “It was the perfect opportunity to do it. It was a little in front of me and I was able to stretch out . . . too bad it didn’t go in!”