Nov. 16, 2003
Columbia, Mo.-Riding through a roller coaster season, the Missouri soccer team rounded out the 2003 season with a 12-11-1 record. The Tigers dropped the second round of the NCAA Tournament to #16 ranked Kansas 2-0.
Despite the season-ending loss, Mizzou can consider its season a success. Astonishing critics, the hard nosed squad battled through an injury laden season facing one of the toughest schedules in the nation. In spite of the setbacks, Missouri advanced to the Big 12 Tournament championship and earned its second berth to the NCAA Tournament.
Missouri's defensive staff kept the Tigers on top during the first period shutting down KU's offensive efforts. Mizzou came on strong creating several treacherous attempts, but were unable to find the net during the initial stanza.
Keeping the Mizzou offensive thrust rushing, stopper Karen Bauer and defender Erica Pusch restrained KU scoring leader Caroline Smith to just two shots in the first 45 minutes. Joined by rousing play by Ashley Gibbs and Margaret Malm, the Missouri defense frustrated the Jayhawks to four attempts with just two on goal.
Giving Kansas its most lenient defending early in the game, the Jayhawks pressured four cornerkicks. The Tigers kept on their game however, subduing their scoring opportunities. Coming up big for Missouri, Malm recorded her first team save of the season defending a corner kick shot by Smith.
Backed by solid defensive play, Mizzou's offensive squad was able to concentrate its efforts on the KU net. Jennifer Nobis pulled out an exhilarating break away, but lost the ball to an aggressive play by Jayhawk keeper Meghan Miller.
Despite continued efforts, Mizzou's eight shot attempts remained unfinished at the end of the first half sending the rivals into intermission with a 0-0 deadlock. After a lackluster first period, Kansas jumped into the second half brimming with gusto. Challenging Missouri early taking two cornerkicks and a pair of shots, KU controlled the early minutes following intermission.
After making several lineup changes, bringing in Kim Hibbert on the defensive line to slate Malm into the midfield, Mizzou got back on track. Giving Miller another scare, Davis and worked a ball from the midfield to loft a pass high. Utilizing her tremendous speed, Nobis raced toward the ball. Just as the forward reached it however, Miller intercepted.
Just as Missouri's momentum was picking up however, the Tigers' rhythm slipped through their fingers. Midfielder Elyse Nikonchuk re-injured her knee forcing Coach Bryan Blitz to sideline Mizzou's defensive half back.
Mizzou's defensive squad continued its valiant efforts, thwarting Kansas in the backfield. Unable to best the Tigers one-on-one, the Jayhawk offense finally found fruition in one their nine cornerkicks. Lobbing a ball into the penalty box, the two teams batted the ball through the arcade of bodies until Smith caught a sharp foot on the ball and sailed it over the goal line.
Down 1-0 with just 13 minutes ticking on the clock, Missouri frantically tried to even out the score. Despite several extraordinary attempts by Davis, the Tigers struggled to come back. The frenzy opened up KU's second scoring play that dropped MU with a 2-0 deficit with just two minutes left to play. Kimberly Karfonta lofted a ball from midfield to Carmel Kaplinger who dribbled the ball to score.
Goalkeeper Megan Duncan retires tallying a 9-4-0 record as a senior, including four shutout victories. She made five saves against the Jayhawks to boost her season total to 58. She graduates as Missouri's career victory and shutout leader.
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