COLUMBIA — On the soccer pitch, Missouri sophomore goalkeeper Tasha Dittamore is always moving. Even when there are no shots to defend, as was the case in Sunday’s win over Eastern Illinois, she keeps herself occupied.
Dittamore slides around the green grass of Walton Stadium, points and calls out directions to Tigers defenders, and, should a ball get through the Missouri defense, scoops it up and gives it a ferocious kick.
“I just make sure that I’m talking to the whole team, mainly my backs, and keeping them organized,” Dittamore said. “If I’m keeping them organized I’m keeping myself in the game.”
Goalies can never let their guard down. They have to stay active, stay moving.
It was a move off the field that has proved to be beneficial for Dittamore. After her freshman season in 2006 at Dayton University in Ohio, she decided to transfer to Missouri.
Dittamore played in eight games for the Flyers. Despite battling an ankle injury, she posted a 5-2 record with two shutouts. She gave up a mere six goals all year. Dittamore didn’t have any problems with the coaches or the school.
So why transfer? She wanted her parents to be able to watch her play the game she loves.
“I think she just wanted to be closer to home,” Missouri coach Bryan Blitz said. “That was my understanding of it. She wanted to play in front of her family. Her family could see her play and drive up from Granite City. I think that was really the issue in the end.”
Granite City, Ill., is in the St. Louis area and about two hours from Columbia. Her parents, Pat and Tami, have been to all of Dittamore’s games this year. Missouri has played four regular season games, two home games and road contests at Illinois and Iowa.
“I really loved the campus,” Dittamore said. “I loved the facilities. I’m only like two hours from home, and it’s really important for me for my parents to be able to come and see my games. They haven’t missed a game yet this year, so that was a big part of my decision.”
In addition to the convenience, Dittamore said she liked Missouri as a school. She said the bigger school offers more.
“I really liked the bigger campus,” Dittamore said. “There’s so many more people to see, such nicer facilities. I like the atmosphere of being at a Big 12 school. We’ve got the big football team. I didn’t have that at Dayton.”
There was a transition to make from a smaller Atlantic 10 Conference school to MU. At Dayton, her longest walk to a class was five minutes. At Missouri, her first class was 15 minutes away. Her first day at Missouri was the first day of the 2007 Winter Semester, just after a severe ice storm hit Columbia. It made for a treacherous walk, slipping and sliding over the ice across a big, unfamiliar campus.
“I almost slipped and fell on the ice,” Dittamore said. “The first day I was like, ‘Oh, my gosh, what am I going to do?’”
Fortunately for Dittamore, she said she fit in with her teammates quickly. Her relationships with them helped ease the transition. She had found a home near home at Missouri.
“I love the girls,” Dittamore said. “They’re awesome. It took me a week to fit in. I love it.”
Sophomore defender Crystal Wagner said the team organizes social activities to hang out and get to know each other. Such activities help freshman and transfer players feel welcome.
“This is one thing that I think is so great about Mizzou, everyone really treats each other like a family,” Wagner said. “We do things outside of soccer. We hang out all the time at night. We’ll cook a dinner at somebody’s house and just invite the whole team over.”
Dittamore has found success early in her career at MU . She was named the starter after the preseason, has started all four games and has been in goal for 343 of the season’s 360 minutes. Dittamore has allowed only three goals, including none in the second half, for a 0.79 goals against average. Last weekend she earned her first two shutouts of the season, against Iowa and Eastern Illinois. Most importantly for Dittamore, Missouri is 4-0.
“I like action,” Dittamore said. “I like to make saves, but however we get the win is fine.”
More challenges and difficult opponents await Dittamore and the Tigers. Dittamore said that while the Atlantic 10 was a good conference, she was excited about the upcoming challenge of Big 12 Conference play.
“I am very excited for Big 12 (play),” Dittamore said. “I played in the Atlantic 10, and I mean, there are some good teams. I had some good games there, but Big 12 is just a completely different world. It’s physical. I’m excited to really get into it and get into the season and really do work. That’s our team motto: Do work.”
Whether it is the transition from Dayton to Missouri, from the Atlantic 10 to the Big 12, or from nonconference play to the conference schedule, this Flyer turned Tiger keeps moving forward.