By Daniel Wallace
Baylor soccer improved to 6-1-1 over the weekend behind two home 2-0 victories, increasing the Bears’ home winning streak to six games with a 5-0 home record this season.
On Sunday, the Bears handed the North Texas Mean Green (5-1-1) their first loss of the season in an aggressive game. Head coach Marci Jobson said the team eventually just wore down the Mean Green and that the Bears fought hard to earn the victory.
“We are an aggressive team, and they are an aggressive team,” Jobson said. “When you get two of those together, it’s going to be a little bit brutal. When you have two blue-collar, hardworking, physical teams come together, it’s going to be ugly.”
The game was scoreless until the 52nd minute when junior midfielder Hanna Gilmore recorded a goal for the second consecutive game. She notched the ball in from 12 yards out off a corner kick from senior defender Hannah Dismuke. Gilmore said the key to the victory was attitude and effort, the two things the team has preached all season. Gilmore took a go-for-it attitude into Sunday’s game, and specifically right before she scored.
When Gilmore saw an opening for the shot, she had the mindset of, “If you make it, you make it. If you miss, you move on.”
In the 82nd minute, junior forward Dana Larsen picked up her fourth goal of the season on a cross from senior midfielder Bethany Johnston to give Baylor the 2-0 lead.
“It was perfect,” Larsen said. “I didn’t have to move. I just had to stand there.”
Larsen said this was the first game the team felt like it played Baylor soccer for a full 90 minutes. Jobson agreed with Larsen, saying it was great to see her team so focused and sharp for the entirety of the game, saying this was the best game the team has played all season.
The Bears outshot the Mean Green 23-4, including 14-2 in the second half.
Friday’s contest resulted in the same score for the Bears, this time against the Texas State Bobcats (2-4). Although the outcome was consistent in the 2-0 victory, much was different from Sunday’s victory. Coach Jobson did not think her team played very well during the whole game because of the lack of focus it had in the first half.
The inspirational halftime speech did not come from Jobson but senior defender Staz Salinas. Jobson said she was able to get the team focused and energized for the second half. It showed as Baylor scored two second-half goals to seal the 2-0 victory.
“Staz has always been a huge leader on this team,” freshman forward Natalie Huggins said. “She leads by how she plays, how she acts. She fired us up to score those goals in the second half.”
Huggins got the scoring going early in the second half, banking in a header in the 46th minute. The second score came from Gilmore whose header beat the keeper to the far post in the 82nd minute.
Not only did the Bears come out of the half with more focus, the team just simply played better in the last 45 minutes, Jobson said.
“We eliminated their opportunities,” she said. “We just played better defenses in the second half. We cleared the ball better; we won more head balls, we put a ton of pressure on them in the second half.”
The Bears start conference play 6:30 p.m. Friday in College Station, where they face the Texas A&M Aggies (4-4-0).