By: Andrew Shepler
Big 12 Campus Correspondent
Goalkeeper Tasha Dittamore transferred to Missouri after a semester at the University of Dayton. The move had two objectives: playing for a bigger soccer program and being closer to her family in Granite City, Ill.
As it turned out, there was an added bonus. The Mizzou soccer family has helped Dittamore succeed on the field.
“The whole team is so close,” Dittamore said. “We're like a huge family, we really are. We’re always together.”
The junior goalkeeper has played well so far and she attributes her successful start not just to herself, but also to her team.
“Obviously training and being technically better this year than I was last year and then just the team stepping up to where they are,” Dittamore said in explaining the team's 5-2 start.
Assistant Coach Molly Schneider, who is in charge of the goalkeepers, agrees.
“The whole team is defending well,” said Schneider. “The backs are defending well which makes Tasha defend well.”
Dittamore, who had three shutouts last season, is on pace for a record-setting season. She has four shutouts (which leads the Big 12 Conference) in the Tigers' first nine games. The school record for shutouts is five.
“I try to get a shutout every single game,” Dittamore said. “I don’t think about statistics or anything like that, I just know that if they don’t score they can’t win. I just try to keep a shutout every game.”
Last season, while sharing time with senior Mallory Frost, Dittamore had 21 saves. She already has 37 this season.
“She’s been consistent, which was maybe the difference last year between those two (Dittamore and Frost),” coach Bryan Blitz said. “She certainly came in here from after the summer, whatever her training was benefited her, and she hasn’t really looked back. It’s still very tight, but I think the biggest difference is she’s just being more consistent”
Dittamore's composure has been steadier.
“Last year I would get myself rattled a lot,” she said. “If a goal went in or if I made a mistake I would really get myself rattled. This year, Molly has really helped me keep myself calm. If a mistake happens, take a deep breath, we're fine, shake it off and just keep playing.”
Blitz attributes Dittamore's improved composure to experience.
“I think she’s matured as a person,” Blitz said. “That’s the biggest thing when you look at goalkeepers is their maturity level and can they play at a high level. Tasha used to play at a very high level and then have an average game, and she’s been able to put a lot of consistent performances together and that’s made the difference.”
Dittamore thinks a combination of maturity and training has helped take her game to the next level.
“I think I’ve grown up a lot,” she said. “I’ve matured a lot since last year so I think that’s really helped me out. Also, just getting technically better every training session.”
While they have camaraderie off the field, the consistent playing time for Dittamore has helped her become more comfortable with her teammates on the field.
“Were all getting a lot more used to each other,” she said of the defenders who play in front of her. “They know their positions and when it’s time for them to drop in or step up, and I’m starting to learn with each situation what they need to be doing. So me learning what they need to do has been helping our communication all together.”
Schneider agrees with Blitz that consistency leads to better play.
“When people work together they get to know each other, they get to know tendencies so the more that you can get those individuals on the same page, the better it will be,” Schneider said.
Dittamore hopes to keep that consistency up for the rest of the year, which she knows begins with going back to the basics.
“If you let in a cheap goal everybody’s head goes down a little bit, so it’s just making sure that I make the simple saves to keep us going through the game,” Dittamore said.