(Kansas City, Mo.) - Kara Priest's first career goal was all the 'Roos would need as Nina Tzianos pitched the shutout to lift UMKC to a 1-0 victory over Missouri State in the season opener at Durwood Stadium on Friday.
The Bears entered the match with an unblemished 5-0 mark vs. UMKC, winning each of the team's five previous meetings by one goal, but the tables were turned on this night. Kansas City dominated possession for the better part of the game, preventing MSU from attempting a single shot on goal until the 33rd minute, and keeping Missouri State goalkeeper Jessica Perry under constant duress.
"In the history of the program this is the sixth time we’ve played them and they’ve all been close," said head coach Chris Cissell. "To be fair, I thought we should’ve had more goals and should have put the game away in the second half. But I think that's due in part to it being the first game with so many new players on the team playing in their first game."
The 'Roos put two shots on net in the first 12 minutes and outshot the Bears 5-1 in the first half. Still, the game was scoreless at the break.
"It's a tribute to [Missouri State] too," said Cissell. "I thought their goalkeeper made several great saves."
Priest, one of five freshman to see time for Kansas City, wasted little time in putting her new team out in front once the second half began. The Overland Park-native beat Perry with the opposite end of an Alyssa Elver entry just inside the six-yard box for the first goal of the season and the first of her career.
"That was awesome for her in her first college game to get the game-winning goal," said Cissell. "That’s a great way to start her career. I thought all of the freshman that came in played well. Five freshmen playing against such a good team and they all had huge contributions."
For the 14th time in the last three seasons, one goal was enough for Nina Tzianos, who extended her school record for career shutouts with her first goose egg of 2014.
"I thought our back four did really well," said Cissell. "I thought Sarah Todd and Erika Teson were real solid. Kaely Tott had a really good game at right back and served in some good balls, as well."
Though largely untested through the two-thirds of the match, Tzianos was spectacular down the stretch, making four of her five saves in the final 31 minutes – none bigger than back-to-back diving rejections at 60' and 62'.
"Nina is phenomenal," said Cissell. "There’s a reason I nominated her for defensive player of the year in the conference. I think she’s that good. I think she’s a phenomenal goalkeeper and we’re very fortunate to have her. I’m glad she’s on our team for this year and one more. She just comes up in big in big games and makes huge saves."
With the victory, UMKC remains unbeaten in home openers under Cissell (2-0-2). The 'Roos have now won four consecutive one-goal games dating back to Sept. 22 of last season.
"I think right now, as a team, we’re further along defensively than we were offensively, but I think that happens to a lot of teams this time of year," said Cissell. "But I’m really proud of the fact that we were able to shutout such a good team. This was a great win for us."