Madison Lewis heads a ball

Missouri midfielder Madison Lewis heads a ball during a match against Loyola Chicago on Sunday at Walton Stadium. The Tigers lost 2-1.

Missouri soccer has almost reached the finish line of the season’s non-conference sprint. The Tigers have played six games in the past three weeks, winning an impressive five, and will play two more contests this weekend at Walton Stadium before the beginning of conference play next week.

This weekend’s pair, however, might represent the toughest scheduling stretch of the year for MU. With Cal State Fullerton in town Friday and Northern Colorado visiting Sunday, it is the only point of the season in which the Tigers will play two games in three days.

With the busy calendar in mind, it is no surprise that coach Bryan Blitz allowed the Tigers an extra day rest after last Sunday’s loss to Loyola Chicago, which ended MU’s perfect start to the season.

“We’re going to come out with a really hard practice on Wednesday,” midfielder Madison Lewis said following Sunday’s game. “Our coach is giving us a couple days off just to regroup, get some treatment time in.”

The final weekend of Missouri’s six-game non-conference homestand will begin with Cal State Fullerton, a regular contender in the Big West Conference that has reached the NCAA Tournament in four of the past six seasons.

The Titans are off to a 4-2 start to this year and have picked up plenty of experience against major programs. After a 4-1 loss to Arizona State on Aug. 22, the Titans earned 2-0 wins over Minnesota and Kansas State in the past few weeks.

This year’s team is led offensively by Maddie Bennett and Atlanta Primus, who have contributed six goals and six assists, respectively.

Bennett is the Big West’s reigning Offensive Player of the Week after she scored three goals in the team’s past two games, including the winning goal against Kansas State on Sunday. She has scored in four of the Titans’ six matches so far.

Primus’ assist total is tied for the highest in the country at this early stage of the season, although it is boosted by a trio of assists from an Aug. 30 rout of Northern Colorado, Missouri’s other opponent this weekend.

MU has never faced either program in its 23-year history. If the Tigers are to come away with victories this weekend, they will likely need an improved performance from goalkeeper Peyton Bauman, whose positioning error led to a breakaway and Loyola Chicago’s winning goal on Sunday.

Forwards Sarah Luebbert and Julissa Cisneros are expected to once again lead Missouri’s attack. The pair has combined to score eight of the team’s 12 goals this season.

MU will kick off against Cal State Fullerton at 7 p.m. Friday at Walton Stadium. The Northern Colorado match will follow at 1 p.m. Sunday.

  • Sports reporter, fall 2019 Studying sports journalism Reach me at owen.krucoff@gmail.com, or in the newsroom at 882-5700.

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