Kat Tarr’s freshman season as a defender for the Missouri soccer team has been a learning experience, and she doesn’t want her soccer education to end today.
Tarr, who has started 16 games in the backfield, and the Tigers (9-6-3, 3-4-2 Big 12) will play the Kansas Jayhawks at 3 p.m. today in Lawrence, Kan., with the season on the line. Eighth in the Big 12 Conference with only today’s game to play before the eight-team Big 12 tournament, Missouri must beat KU or rely on the outcome of ninth-place Oklahoma State’s game against Oklahoma this evening. If the Tigers lose and the Cowboys win, MU’s season is likely over. Although the Tigers will have the required .500 record for the NCAA Tournament, it is unlikely they will get a bid without a strong showing against fifth-place Kansas (10-6-2, 5-3-1 Big 12).
Tarr said the team is focused on the crucial game.
“I’ve never seen every girl want something as much as this Kansas game,” she said.
Tarr said her first season has been an eye-opening experience.
“Mostly I’ve learned that coming together as a team is one of the hardest but most rewarding things,” Tarr said. “You have to keep growing as a player. Every game I get a little more comfortable, a little more at ease on the ball.”
Coach Bryan Blitz said he has seen improvement in Tarr’s play.
“She’s playing a little bit more sophisticated. As a youth player, she could solve everything athletically, but now she’s having to solve everything intellectually,” Blitz said. “Her tactical knowledge of the game has grown.”
It was a difficult adjustment for Tarr, a Vancouver, Wash., native, to become accustomed to living in Missouri and competing at a higher level of play on the field at the same time.
“The beginning of the year for me was the biggest challenge,” she said. “You have to get used to everything.”
After playing 16 games for the Tigers, however, Tarr no longer thinks about being one of the youngest players on the field and is ready to take on a leadership position.
“We had five girls come in last week who have verbally committed (to come to Missouri), and the freshmen hosted them, and for the first time this year I don’t feel like a freshman,” Tarr said. “With the seniors leaving, we realize we have to come in and step up.”