Near goal frustrates Tigers’ offense

Sunday, September 12, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 9:51 p.m. CDT, Saturday, July 19, 2008

Both players managed to beat their defenders, and each fired at the goal and saw the ball sail over the goalkeeper’s head. One watched her shot hit the back of the net, while the other saw her ball bounce off the crossbar.

“The difference was their once in a lifetime shot went in and ours didn’t today,” MU coach Bryan Blitz said.

The Missouri soccer team fell 1-0 to No. 23 Stanford on Friday at Audrey J. Walton Stadium after outshooting the Cardinal 15-11.

Stanford (2-2) got its only goal in the first half. Freshman goalkeeper Laura Buehrig blocked one attempt, but punched the ball to the top of the box into the path of Stanford junior Leah Tapscott, who kicked the ball over Buehrig’s head and into the goal.

“I think they did a great job,” Blitz said of his defense. “The kid that scored a goal, that’s the goal of her lifetime. But that’s the game of soccer. There was nothing we could do.”

The Tigers again had difficulty completing their scoring opportunities. Stanford’s All-American goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart had five saves as misfires plagued the Tigers.

The Tigers came closest in the second half when Junior Amber Swinehart made it past her defender and Stanford goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart went down. Swinehart took a shot that looked like it would go in, but the ball bounced off the top of the goal.

“It’s frustrating, but it got us going again,” Swinehart said.

Swinehart’s near miss sparked a flurry of shots by Missouri in the last 15 minutes, but none of the attempts were successful.

While this is the second game in a row the Tigers didn’t finish on offense, Missouri’s players said they are confident the problem won’t hamper them much longer.

“It was a good feeling, testing that goalie out, and yeah, she was a great goalie, but we could have put it in,” sophomore midfielder Elyse Nikonchuk said. “Our opportunities were there, we just couldn’t slap them in tonight, but we’re definitely going to get it.”

Play was even throughout the first half, with the Tigers avoiding a slow start like the one they had in a 2-1 loss against Wisconsin on Sept. 3.

At halftime, the Tigers and Cardinal were even with six shots a piece, but MU had three shots on goal to Stanford’s one.

The Missouri defensive line of senior Ashley Gibbs, junior Erica Pusch, senior Lacy Moore and sophomore Lauren Grice held off Stanford throughout the second half, allowing five shots, one on goal.

The tough play of the defense, though, didn’t make up for the failure of the offense to capitalize on its opportunities. The loss puts the Tigers at 2-3.

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