A little more than a week into Border War Cup competition, Kansas University's soccer team is forced into the trenches.
The Jayhawks wouldn't mind adding ground support when they travel to Columbia, Mo., for a 7 p.m. game tonight, but this game means more than Border War points.
"As much as we enjoy playing Missouri, it's more about getting a 'W' in the win column," junior Maggie Mason said.
For each school, a win tonight plus a decent showing at next week's Big 12 Conference tournament in San Antonio might be enough to qualify for the NCAA tournament.
"If we finish fourth in the conference and show well at the conference tournament, then I think we'll make the NCAA tournament," said KU coach Mark Francis, whose team is 11-5-2 overall and is 4-4-1 in the Big 12, tied for fifth with Mizzou. "But the same thing goes for Missouri."
Missouri, 10-6-2, shares the same seventh-place NSCAA Central Regional ranking with the Jayhawks. Each team defeated Mississippi State and lost to Mississippi early this season, and each is coming off weekend losses to No. 3 Texas and No. 5 Texas A&M.
"It's kind of one of those games where they're a good team and we're a good team, and it's just going to come down to executing," Francis said.
At times this season, executing has been a problem for Kansas. If the Jayhawks had beaten Baylor (1-6-2 Big 12) on Oct. 4, they wouldn't be in this position. KU's only home loss this season, a 2-1 defeat to Oklahoma, is more glaring now.
"Those are two games we let get away from us that have put us in this situation," Francis said. "But at the same time it's exciting for us, because two years ago going into the last game of the season we had nothing to play for. This year and last year going into the last game of the season, you're looking at winning a game and giving yourselves an opportunity at making the Big Dance."