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Missouri soccer’s last game against Alabama was in Orange Beach, Alabama, at the 2017 SEC Tournament. In order to return to the Gulf Coast and avoid missing the postseason event for the first time, the Tigers may have to beat the Crimson Tide on Thursday at Walton Stadium.

After last week’s 2-1 loss at Kentucky, which had been winless in conference play until taking down Missouri, the 12th-place Tigers have three regular season games remaining to erase the three-point gap separating them from Mississippi State and Tennessee, the two teams tied for 10th.

This week’s road is tough, with Missouri hosting a well-tested Alabama team before traveling to No. 22 Texas A&M on Sunday. But if the Tigers can remain within striking distance of the Volunteers or Bulldogs, they could have a chance to leap into the top 10 by beating Mississippi State in the regular season finale Oct. 31.

Tennessee hosts No. 20 Florida and Mississippi State visits last-place Louisiana State on Thursday. The Volunteers will then take on the Bulldogs in Starkville, Mississippi, on Sunday in a game Missouri will surely have its eye on.

For now, all the Tigers can do is try to become the first unranked team to defeat Alabama this season. A loss to the Crimson Tide could end Missouri’s season if Mississippi State and Tennessee each pick up points Thursday.

The Tide roll into Columbia on a five-game unbeaten streak and are the fifth-highest scoring team in the conference with 29 goals. They are sixth in the league standings with a 3-2-2 conference record, with the losses coming against No. 6 Arkansas and No. 7 South Carolina, two of the SEC’s top teams.

Casey Wertz is Alabama’s leader in assists (six) and co-leader in goals (four). She and the rest of the Tide attack will go up against a Missouri goalkeeper who will not be known until sometime Thursday. A flurry of complications at the position in recent weeks has left the Tigers’ situation in net completely unclear.

Original starter Peyton Bauman has not played since Sept. 29. An illness, which she described on social media as viral meningitis, has kept her out of the last four matches. Freshman McKenna Sheehan filled in for three games until she was ruled out of the Kentucky contest just hours before kickoff for unspecified reasons.

Gillian Schulte, a Columbia native who attended MU for two years before walking onto the soccer team this season, filled in on short notice, giving up two goals and making two saves in her collegiate debut. A team spokesperson said they would provide an update on the goalkeeping situation Thursday.

Missouri and Alabama will kick off at 7 p.m. Thursday at Walton Stadium, and the game will be streamed on SEC Network+. The Tigers will then take on the Aggies at 4 p.m. Sunday in College Station, Texas, on ESPNU.

This article originally ran on columbiamissourian.com.

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