Missouri forward Julissa Cisneros competes for the ball (copy)

Missouri forward Julissa Cisneros competes for the ball Thursday in Columbia. Cisneros and the Tigers beat Florida 3-2 on Sunday to revive a nearly flatlined tournament hope.

With the regular season nearing its conclusion, there are still questions when looking toward the 10-team SEC soccer championship in Orange Beach, Alabama.

Following Missouri’s extra-time win against Florida, Kentucky is the only team still winless in conference play.

The Wildcats host an LSU team Thursday that is quickly coming down to earth.

LSU has been ranked as high as No. 5 in the country but now sits fifth in the SEC West with just one conference win. The Top 25 is a distant memory.

Missouri has also had its share of conference struggles. Having gone winless for a month, the Tigers beat Florida 3-2 on Sunday to revive their nearly flatlined tournament hopes.

A similar result against No. 7 Arkansas on Friday is unlikely, but with two of their final three games coming against Kentucky (6-7-2, 0-6 SEC) and Texas A&M (6-7-1, 2-4), the Tigers stand a chance to qualify for the tournament.

The rest of Friday’s matches are Georgia vs. South Carolina, Mississippi State vs. Tennessee and Alabama vs. Texas A&M. The latter is the most interesting of the three.

The Aggies need points, and an inconsistent Crimson Tide team may be there for the taking. Alabama sits at 3-3 in SEC play and 8-7 overall. At times, the Tide have looked like they can compete with the best. At other times, Alabama has looked like basement dwellers.

A&M could pick up a crucial three points, which would boost its tournament chances significantly with favorable matches against Mississippi State and Missouri in two of the last three to close the regular season.

The biggest match of the week, though, is Sunday’s Vanderbilt vs. Mississippi fixture.

The Commodores — the defending conference champions — have won three of their past four matches, the lone loss a 1-0 setback against Arkansas.

Vanderbilt beat Alabama, Missouri and Kentucky by a combined score of 12-1 before hosting the Razorbacks. Both Vandy and Ole Miss come into the match in third place in their divisions, with the Rebels boasting impressive wins against South Carolina and then-No. 5 LSU.

Sunday’s other match is Florida vs. No. 22 Auburn. Florida needs a win after falling at home to Missouri — its third consecutive loss — and the Gators’ final matches against Georgia, LSU and South Carolina don’t bode well for them, potentially leaving a tournament spot up for Missouri to take.

The top spot in the conference is still up for grabs, with the likes of Arkansas, Tennessee and South Carolina in contention. And with several teams — Missouri included — vying for the final tournament spots, each match at this point of the season is crucial.

  • Missouri soccer and men's basketball beat writer, Fall 2021. Reach me at anthony.kristensen17@gmail.com, or in the newsroom at 882-5700.

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