10 November 2009
Iâ€™m guessing that most of Mizzourahâ€™s readers arenâ€™t huge womenâ€™s college soccer fans. Iâ€™d even bet that the majority of you canâ€™t name a single player on Mizzouâ€™s roster.
Iâ€™m not that different from you. I generally follow the World Cup when it rolls around every four years and thatâ€™s about it. I kinda took an interest in Mizzouâ€™s team two years ago because I lived on the same floor as a lot of the players in the dorms at MU. I went to a few games each year and usually had a pretty good time and Iâ€™d even watch the team occasionally on those rare days when they played on ESPNU. All that said, I still donâ€™t really follow the team or the sport all that closely.
But it is a damn shame what the NCAA did to Missouriâ€™s team this week. If you missed it the NCAA elected to leave the Tigers out of the field of 64 teams that will compete in the NCAA Tournament. That despite the fact that the Tigers finished the season as the regular season Big 12 Champs.
Now Iâ€™ve already admitted that I donâ€™t really follow this sport so youâ€™re not going to get any sort of in-depth analysis from me as to why the Tigers deserved to go to the tourney. From what I understand this season was a down year for the Big 12 in soccer and that coupled with the Tigersâ€™ surprisingly slow 4-4-1 start to the season left Missouri with a not so impressive RPI rating (47).
But winning a major conference like the Big 12 even in a down year has to be enough to at least get you an invite to the Dance, no? There couldnâ€™t have been too many teams in the country hotter than the Tigers who went 9-1-2 before dropping their Big 12 Tournament semifinal game to Oklahoma State.
And itâ€™s not like this was a group that hadnâ€™t proven itself in the past. Missouri advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament in â€™07 and â€™08 and finished â€™08 with an impressive record of 16-5-2, which included a Big 12 Tournament championship. This yearâ€™s senior class basically did for Missouri Tiger soccer what Chase Daniel, Chase Coffman, Ziggy Hood and company did for Missouri Tiger football. Tiger coach Bryan Blitz even speculated that they might be the most successful senior class that Mizzou has had in any sport.
It sucks even more because I can personally tell you that those seniors were class acts. College athletes often get stigmatized as arrogant kids that carry themselves with a sense of entitlement and they often deserve that reputation. But that was not at all the case with this group.
Michelle Collins was a great player and probably the most charismatic Tiger athlete this side of Kimmie English. Kristin Andrighetto will likely go down as the greatest soccer player in school history and was as down to earth as they come. Ditto for Crystal Wagner and Bree Thornton and the rest of the players in the class.
You hate to see them have to end their careers like that but those players have a lot to be proud of. They donâ€™t get the acclaim that the Daniels and Englishes get, but their effort has been appreciated nonetheless.
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