By Ben Everett | Sports Writer
Baylor defeated No. 16 Oklahoma State 3-0 Friday in Kansas City, Mo. to advance to the Big 12 Conference Championship final for just the second time in program history.
The Bears (12-5-2, 4-4-1) lost to the Cowgirls (16-2-2, 8-1-0) by a score of 1-0 in overtime in the regular season, but dominated OSU on Friday afternoon for a shot at the program’s first ever Big 12 Championship.
The winner of the Big 12 Tournament receives an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament while all other teams will wait to see if they receive an at-large bid.
Baylor head coach Paul Jobson said it was an outstanding team effort against the Cowgirls, but that the defense was especially good in the win.
“I thought we did a great job in all aspects of the game. We kept possession and were able to take care of the ball. We were able to get off some quality shots,” Jobson said. “Defensively, we were in complete lockdown mode. They had one shot on goal the entire game.”
The Bears jumped on the Cowgirls early on as senior midfielder Aline De Lima took control of the ball at midfield and turned her defender around with a series of moves en route to a goal in the 10th minute.
After taking the 1-0 lead, Baylor continued to attack the net with back-to-back header attempts by junior midfielder Julie James in the 14th minute to no avail.
Freshman goalkeeper Jennifer Wandt picked up her first save of the match, punching a shot away in the 22nd minute to preserve the Bears’ lead.
De Lima received a free kick in the 44th minute, but could not convert, as Baylor headed into halftime with a 1-0 lead over Oklahoma State. At the break, the Bears led 10-2 in shots.
Junior forward Lauren Piercy was aggressive in the early part of the second half. Piercy logged three shots before the 62 minute mark, but failed to connect on any of them.
As the Bears continued to put pressure on the Cowgirls’ defense in the second period, junior forward Ariel Leach broke through for a goal in the 75th minute the assist from De Lima to put Baylor up 2-0.
Leach said that the team has been working all season to convert more shots into goals and the pass from De Lima was in the exact spot it needed to be to help her find the net.
We’ve been really working on keeping the ball wide and keeping the ball low to the “corner. Aline set me up in the best possible spot. It felt good,” Leach said.
De Lima put the cherry on top with her second goal of the game and sixth of the season as the Bears took a commanding 3-0 lead in the 89th minute.
De Lima said that after being in a similar position last year against TCU in the semifinals, it was all about focus and finishing the job.
“We all came out hard and had a great mentality. We focused and played our game and did everything we were supposed to do,” De Lima said. “We had been here in this same position last year. We had two goals in the first half. We’re going to go for it no matter what. Defensively we were so solid. We kept going no matter what.”
Baylor outshot Oklahoma State 23-5 and 7-1 in shots on goal.
Baylor will face No. 3 seed TCU at 3 p.m. Sunday in Kansas City, Mo.