By James Hill
SAN ANTONIO, Texas -- The third-seeded Missouri Tigers won their first-ever Big 12 soccer championship on Sunday with a tightly played 1-0 victory over the No. 4 Colorado Buffaloes at Blossom Soccer Stadium.
Missouri (15-5-1), in its fourth trip to the conference final, also received the Big 12 automatic bid to the NCAA Division I Soccer Championship, for which invitations will be announced on Monday. Colorado (14-4-4), which played in its third final in the past four years, is also expected to receive an NCAA bid.
Tiger senior midfielder Mo Redmond, who was selected to the all-tournament team, scored the only goal, 6:00 into the game. It marked her fifth goal of the season. Junior forward Kristin Andrighetto provided the assist.
"Colorado took us all the way to the brink," said Missouri coach Bryan Blitz. "They made us better today. Now, we look forward to the NCAA Tournament. We're excited to see if we host and look forward to finding out who we play. We'll celebrate until 7 p.m. tomorrow night and then focus on the tournament, so we can continue our journey."
The Tigers knocked out last year's tournament champion, No. 6 Texas, by a score of 3-1 last Wednesday in the quarterfinals. Missouri then tied No. 7 Kansas in Friday's semifinals and advanced to the championship game 4-3 on penalty kicks. Sophomore forward Alysha Bonnick fired in the final penalty kick, propelling Missouri into the title game.
Bonnick, who did not take a shot in Sunday's final, was selected as the event’s offensive MVP.
"I couldn't have done it without the team," said Bonnick, who scored two goals in the tournament. "This tournament is something I'll always remember. This was our goal from the very beginning. Ever since last spring, we worked really hard. I think we definitely deserve it. This whole season has been something special."
Missouri junior goalkeeper Tasha Dittamore was named the tournament’s defensive MVP. Dittamore recorded two saves in Sunday's game and made 11 in the tournament's three games.
"It's a huge honor to be named defensive most valuable player, out of all the great players at this tournament this week,” Dittamore said, "Of course, I have to credit the whole defense for the phenomenal job they did." It's a great feeling. It feels like I'm on top of the world. This was a total team effort."
In Sunday's game, Missouri held a 13-12 edge in total shots, but was 8-2 in shots on goal. Colorado was a 4-2 leader in corner kicks.
The Buffaloes took out No. 5 Nebraska 1-0 in the opening game and tied regular-season champion Oklahoma State 1-1 in the semifinals. Colorado went on to the championship game with a 3-2 margin in penalty kicks.
"We've shown all year that we have to fight and scratch for every goal that we get," said Colorado coach Bill Hempen. "I thought we actually had some pretty clear looks at goal, but we didn't finish." We played hard today. "I've never had a complaint with this team as to what they put out there. All year long there has not been one game where they've taken the day off. We just have to keep at it. It's a weird game. Missouri scored a goal today and we didn't. Now it's time to take some rest and make a run in the next tournament that faces us."
Colorado senior goalkeeper Kirstin Radlinski also earned all-tournament recognition. Radlinski made six saves in the championship and totaled 20 in the tournament.
BIG 12 CHAMPIONSHIP ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM
Kirstin Radlinski, Colorado
Kat Tarr, Missouri
Estelle Johnson, Kansas
Michelle Wenino, Colorado
Monica Dolinsky, Kansas
Yolanda Odenyo, Oklahoma State
Meghan Pfeiffer. Missouri
Mo Redmond, Missouri
Shannon McCabe, Kansas
Kasey Langdon, Oklahoma State
Alysha Bonnick, Missouri
Defensive Most Valuable Player -- Tasha Dittamore
Offensive Most Valuable Player -- Alysha Bonnick