For the third time in as many SEC matches, Missouri conceded a late winner Sunday. And for the third time in as many matches, the Tigers went down 2-1.
First it was Corinna Zullo’s strike from the top of the box for South Carolina.
Then it was Riley Tanner’s clean finish off a one-touch pass from Ashlynn Serepca for Alabama.
This time, it was an unmarked Hannah Zaluski, making a run to the far post, who was found by Mackenzie George for the tap-in.
Missouri defended resolutely throughout the match against the heavily favored Volunteers, but it all came crashing down in the final moment.
“We’re heartbroken after that one,” Missouri coach Stefanie Golan said, echoing the same sentiment from the South Carolina match. ... “We have to keep fighting.”
Milena Fischer’s ninth-minute opener gave the Tigers an early lead.
Julissa Cisneros received the ball after sending in a corner and found a wide-open Fischer in the box for her fifth goal of the season.
It was Fischer’s first goal from inside the 18-yard box.
Tennessee leveled it eight minutes later. Jaida Thomas got on the end of Taylor Huff’s through ball and rifled it over Missouri keeper McKenna Sheehan’s head.
The Volunteers’ winner came 89 minutes later.
“We gotta focus in as we get tired,” Golan said. ... “We’ve got to zone in a little bit harder at those times.”
Sheehan’s performance was a bright spot for the Tigers.
The backup goalkeeper made her first start of the season after starter Sophia Worth went down injured against Alabama.
With Worth out indefinitely, Missouri seems to be in safe hands.
Sheehan made five saves and commanded her box well throughout the 105-minute outing.
Coming into the match, Sheehan had played only 85 minutes this season.
“She made some good saves,” Golan said. “She strikes the ball well and helps us get out of our end.”
Again, Missouri conceded a lot of shots, but most were low-percentage chances.
The Tigers defense has been one of the more inconsistent parts of the squad, but has looked good aside from fleeting moments in SEC play.
The Tigers forced Tennessee into nine offsides calls.
Missouri’s defense has earned 57 offsides compared to 11 against its offense.
“(The defense) battled hard,” Golan said. “Didn’t really give up too many dangerous opportunities throughout.”
Missouri will make the trip to Nashville for a 7 p.m. match Friday against Vanderbilt.
The Commodores are 4-5-2 and coming off a 3-0 win over Alabama on Sunday. The Tigers beat Vanderbilt last season when the the Commodores were ranked No. 13 in the country.
“These kids are willing to battle and fight and scrap and claw their way,” Golan said of her team.