Defense helps Baylor soccer ride high
It’s a fortress that scares other soccer teams and a barrier that gives the offense protection. Usually this type of protection would be the goalie, but with No. 7 Baylor it goes beyond that. It’s the combination of the defense and the goalie.
Baylor is first in the Big 12 in part because of the combination between the hard-nosed defense and the effective play of junior goalkeeper Michelle Kloss.
Kloss had a strong weekend against the two fire-powered offenses of Missouri and Texas A&M. Kloss made nine saves and allowed one goal, which is the only goal she has allowed this season.
“She’s had a great performance,” Baylor co-head coach Marci Jobson said. “This was a great weekend for her because this was a weekend where she was challenged tremendously and she stepped up to those challenges. She made some key saves in those games and I think it was good for her to see when I do get the action, when I do get the challenges can I make those saves. She made some tremendous saves this weekend.”
It’s the chemistry between Kloss and the defense that has led to Baylor’s success. The system implemented by Jobson is not just limited to markings, but collaboration between the players. Communication is key because they don’t want broken plays to lead to potential scores.
The collaboration between the backfield and the goalie has to be present in order for the team to be on the same page, which is why Baylor is in constant communication on the field.
“We are really close,” Kloss said. “We’re mostly upperclassmen so we’re in the same class and we’ve grown together with the team. We’re close and with each other, we know how we play and with the new girls coming in it’s the same thing. They have been with us so it’s just a constant support system.”
The Bears had five shutouts this season and were 12 minutes away from six. The late goal against Missouri broke the 439:17 minutes of shutout play that Kloss had, which is third all-time in program history.
“Goals happen,” Kloss said. ”It stunk, but you learn from it and move on. Being a goalie you kind of have to. You have to have a short memory span once one thing happens you just move on with it. It’s the next play. It’s over, it’s done with.”
Kloss’ tenacity has helped her as she got challenged early against Texas A&M by having to make a save in the second minute because of a breakaway ball. Kloss only had to make three saves thanks to her defense.
“We have a marking system, but if one person’s man passed them you should have two, three players that are ready to help them” senior midfielder Kat Ludlow said.
“When the ball goes down the back we have the whole team to help,” Ludlow said.
Kloss has a great supporting cast. Baylor’s defense has limited the shots so Kloss ranks eighth in the Big 12. Baylor ranks first in shutouts and goals allowed because Kloss steps up when the team needs her. The teamwork between the two units will be critical if Baylor wants to repeat a Big 12 Championship.
Cal Poly sophomore forward Elise Krieghoff is the number one scorer in the country with 10 goals and one assist in four games.
Kloss will have her hands full when the Bears host Cal Poly at 7 p.m. Friday at Betty Lou Mays Field.