By Daniel Wallace
The Baylor soccer team will finish its regular season this weekend, hosting both Big 12 Oklahoma-based teams.
At 7 p.m. Friday at Betty Lou Mays Field, the Bears will take on the No. 2 ranked team in the country, the undefeated Oklahoma State Cowgirls.
The Bears will close out the regular season against Oklahoma (6-10, 1-4) at 5 p.m. Sunday at home.
Though the Bears pay no attention to the statistics and rankings, the reality is they are currently in second place in the Big 12 standings overall, and are tied in points with Oklahoma State (15-0-1, 4-0-1).
If Baylor (13-2-2, 4-1-1) wins both its games this weekend and Oklahoma State loses to Texas A&M on Sunday, the Bears have a chance to win a share of the Big 12 regular season title.
However, the team’s focus is elsewhere.
“We try to avoid the stats and the rankings because it’s just a distraction that gets in the way,” sophomore forward Vic Hoffman said. “We just focus on the games and everything else just falls into place.”
The Bears will go into the game Friday with the mentality of an underdog, but that will not change the way they play or prepare.
“I look at it as there is a lot of pressure on Oklahoma State,” head coach Marci Jobson said. “They are ranked No. 2 in the country. We are not ranked in the top 20. Let’s go have a freaking great time and let’s battle these guys. Let’s go after them with everything we’ve got and see where the chips fall. We’re not going into that game afraid or worried. We are just going into it ready, prepared.”
Jobson said the Cowgirls do not have any holes on their team and that they are good across the field. She said their fierce attack makes them dangerous.
Oklahoma State’s senior forward Krista Lopez leads the team with eight goals on the season. Jobson described Lopez as being extremely dynamic in front of the goal.
The Cowgirls have scored 39 goals this season versus the Bears’ 36. On the defensive side of the ball, opponents are averaging 10.8 shots per game against the Cowgirls. However, opponents are averaging only 8.5 shots per game against the Bears.
Baylor goes into this game with great anticipation and is eager to give the Cowgirls all they can handle.
“It’s exciting being in this kind of place,” junior defender Hanna Gilmore said. “We’ve never been in this situation before. No matter how much credit we get or have received so far, we are not looking at numbers but we are still the underdogs. We still just have a chip on our shoulder and will just keep proving everybody wrong.”
Junior forward Dana Larsen said she compares the Oklahoma State game to the loss against Texas A&M earlier in the year.
“It’s kind of like A&M for us where we get another second shot,” she said. “A&M was obviously a huge disappointment in the long run. It’s just kind of another opportunity for us to really all come together and band together and fight for each other.”
Fans are encouraged to bring excitement and passion to both games this weekend. Jobson says she would like to see Betty Lou Mays Field filled up with fans in green and gold to help create a better sense of home-field advantage for the Bears.
“If they come out, they are going to see us play against a top team in the country,” Jobson said. “I think that’s exciting to have Baylor have some type of home field advantage. The more fans we can get behind us, the more excitement and energy we can get behind us—it’s going to be that much better for this team. To really feel like we have Baylor behind us would be really exciting.”
Oklahoma has lost six of its last seven matchups entering this weekend.
Baylor finishes its season a week earlier than most other Big 12 teams.
After this weekend, the Bears will have next weekend off and use that to prepare for the Big 12 Championship.
The Big 12 Championship tournament will go from Nov. 2 to Nov. 6 in San Antonio.