In the 79th minute, Loyola Chicago’s Amanda Cassidy booted a long pass up the right sideline, where Megan Nemec beat Missouri defender Anna Frick to the loose ball. Nemec took a simple touch, and suddenly saw nothing but a wide open goal in front of her.
Tiger goalkeeper Peyton Bauman had been caught out of position by Cassidy’s pass. She had pushed up field as Missouri tried to build an attack late in the tied game, but a quick turnover and breakaway exposed her aggressive positioning. Nemec’s job could hardly have been easier as she tapped the ball into the unguarded goal, handing the Ramblers a 2-1 victory at Walton Stadium on Sunday.
The loss ended MU’s undefeated start to the season, dropping the Tigers to 5-1. While Bauman’s error will go down as the defining moment of the game, Missouri coach Bryan Blitz said that blame for the loss rests on the entire team.
“We’ll watch the tape and see if it was decision-making, and what can she do better, but it’s just a learning experience,” Blitz said. “It wasn’t really on her at that point. We gave up the opportunity to get the first goal, and then let them stay in the game, so it never resides on one person.”
Blitz added that Bauman's tactics were nothing out of the ordinary for her position.
"I think we always want our goalkeepers to press above the line," he said. "She made a few saves in the first half where she had to come off her line. It’s just a natural part of the goalkeepers’ menu at this point.”
After a quiet first half for both teams, the Tigers blew a second half lead for the third consecutive game. Lindsey Whitmore helped Missouri take the lead when she made a long run to the edge of the box, drawing defenders to her before sending a pass to Luebbert out wide. Luebbert sent a low shot past goalkeeper Grace Droessler at the far post to make it 1-0 in the 52nd minute.
The Ramblers’ equalizing goal also came on a connection from Cassidy to Nemec, just three minutes before the game-winner. With three defenders and Bauman focused on Cassidy as she received a pass in the box, Cassidy floated a cross to Nemec, who had snuck in behind near the far post for a simple finish.
“We started off well in the second half, but then we turned off for a little five to 10 minutes and it bit us in the butt,” Missouri midfielder Madison Lewis said. “We’ve just got to learn to put a whole 90 minutes together.”
A win would have refreshed old memories for the Tigers, who last began a season 6-0 in 2006. The sixth victory that season came against Loyola Chicago, and Sunday was the two programs’ first meeting since then.
The victory capped off a strong week for Loyola Chicago, in which they tied No. 16 Wisconsin at home on Thursday.
The Ramblers had won the Missouri Valley Conference title in 2018 and were favored to do so again in the conference’s 2019 preseason poll.
As a busy stretch of eight games in four weeks continue for the Tigers, Blitz is giving the team a short break before preparations begin for next weekend’s home matchups with Cal State Fullerton and Northern Colorado.
“We’re going to come out with a really hard practice on Wednesday,” Lewis said. “Our coach is giving us a couple days off just to regroup, get some treatment time in. But we expect to come out really hard in practice and just focus on what we know how to do best.”
MU will host Cal State Fullerton at 7 p.m. Friday night at Walton Stadium, while Northern Colorado will visit at 1 p.m. on Sept. 15.