Tigers struggle, drop under .500

MU offense can’t take advantage in the box against rival Kansas Jayhawks.
Monday, October 13, 2003 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 3:20 a.m. CDT, Saturday, July 19, 2008

Missouri’s offense couldn’t atone for defensive mistakes.

Kansas handed the Tigers’ women’s soccer team a 2-0 Border War loss on Sunday at Audrey J. Walton Stadium, with the Tigers struggling on both ends of the field.

A momentary defensive lapse allowed the Jayhawks to score with 40 seconds left in the first half. Kansas’ Monica Brothers dribbled down the right side and sent a cross into Missouri’s box to unmarked Lacey Novak, who put a one touch shot past Stephanie Krawczyk.

Coach Bryan Blitz blamed the goal on poor, unfocused defending.

“We did it to ourselves, “Blitz said. “You don’t give up a goal with 40 seconds left.”

Said Krawczyk: “Breakdowns like that shouldn’t happen a minute before the half. It’s happened to us a lot this season and it’s something we really need to work on diminishing.”

The pressure turned to the Tigers’ offense to even the score. One of the best chances came in the 51st minute when Elyse Nikonchuck’s header off a cross by Jennifer Nobis skimmed past the right post. The Tigers (6-7-1, 0-4-1 in the Big 12 Conference) produced 11 shots and numerous scoring opportunities, but couldn’t convert.

“We’re wide open in the box and we can’t score,” Adriene Davis said. “It’s not good when you’re a Division I team and you can’t score.”

Kansas didn’t seem to have the same problem. The Jayhawks (11-3-1, 3-2-1) increased their lead in the 71st minute on a short corner kick. Lauren Williams deflected the ball to Caroline Smith who slammed the ball into the right corner. It was Smith’s 14th goal of the year, a new season scoring record for Kansas.

The Tigers played with one less player for the last ten minutes of the game. Nikonchuck left after receiving her second yellow card for taking down Stacy Leeper with a slide tackle. The ejection makes Nikonchuck ineligible to play in the Tigers’ game Friday against Texas.

Missouri also lost two players because of injury. Ashley Gibbs was sidelined in the beginning of the second half after injuring her left knee. Nobis came off in the final seconds of the game because she aggravated her separated left shoulder.

The loss left Missouri looking for solutions.

“We’re searching for leadership,” coach Bryan Blitz said. “We need someone to step up.”

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