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By Parmida Schahhosseini
A youth movement has given No. 7 Baylor soccer new life as the team begins the journey for a back-to-back Big 12 Championship Title.
Coming off the best season in program history, Baylor lost three key goal scorers in Dana Larsen, Lisa Sliwinski and Hanna Gilmore. The trio combined for 28 of the 58 goals scored. Despite losing that kind of productivity, Baylor’s freshmen class is making a big impression.
“Ashley [York], I knew would come in and start for us right away,” Baylor co-head coach Marci Jobson said. “She is going to be the real deal. Even as she gets more and more experience I think she is a high-level player and she just needs to keep getting experience. Emory [Cason] needs to keep learning the system and Lindsay Burns on defense is doing an exceptional job learning the system. All the other girls are just learning as they come, but I think we feel good about our freshman class. We just have to keep getting them experience.”
Freshman midfielder Ashley York put has already put her mark on the team with offensive firepower. York was named Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week and Big 12 Newcomer of the Week. York is the first to earn both awards as a freshman during the first week of play.
“I’m grateful to have gotten it because there are a lot of players in the Big 12 who could have gotten the same award,” York said. ”I’m definitely grateful, but it motivates me to do better because I don’t’ want to them to be like ‘Oh she just started off good in the games that weren’t the hardest ones’ so I just want to keep going, keep getting better as we play harder opponents.”
York’s first goal came during her Baylor debut scoring off senior forward Vic Hoffman against UTSA. York stepped it up in the second game with two goals and an assist. Against Northwestern State, York’s presence was felt early in the match. Three minutes into the match, York set up sophomore forward Bri Campos with a cross left of the box. York was aggressive throughout the game, but took her shots farther from the box.
The freshmen are also able to make their mark on the game by utilizing halftime adjustments. York scored three goals within 2 1/2 minutes to widen the gap. The first goal occurred when sophomore defender Anjadai Seals threw in the ball, which senior midfielder Kat Ludlow passed to York. The second one was off an assist by junior forward Natalie Huggins. York took six shots, one more than the entire Northwestern State team.
York leads the bears in points with seven, but the other underclassmen have been contributing as well. Freshman defender Emory Cason has scored a goal and the freshmen on defense have been turning up the pressure.
“I mean just with Ashley York and her presentation this weekend, it was awesome,” senior midfielder Kat Ludlow said. “I think they have all stepped up every time they have gotten time on the field. They have really proven themselves. They don’t seem like scared little freshmen. They actually go out there and show what they have.”
The freshman will be tested, playing its first road game at 5:30 p.m. Friday against the University of Washington.