By Daniel Wallace
The Big 12 Championship tournament begins today, and third-seed Baylor will face off against sixth-seed Missouri (12-7, 3-5) at 2 p.m. at the Blossom Soccer Complex in San Antonio.
The Baylor soccer team (14-3-2, 5-2-1) finished the regular season registering its most wins in a season since the 1998 team won 15 times. It also boasted the most Big 12 victories since the 2000 club had six.
One of those Big 12 victories was against Missouri on Oct. 14 at Betty Lou Mays Field as the Bears surged past the Tigers 3-1.
Junior forward Dana Larsen registered two goals and an assist to lead Baylor past Missouri. The Bears also dominated the shot category, 18-9, in that game.
The Bears have that victory to build on going into the single-elimination postseason, but the team that missed out on Big 12 tournament play last year, focused only on what is ahead of them and is not looking back.
“We have had a good season and done some good things so far, but with that being said, we want to keep playing and we know that it is in our hands to play as many games as we can the rest of the way,” head coach Marci Jobson said.
The Tigers boast wins against No. 7 Ohio State and No. 17 Texas A&M this season, and used strong defense in both 1-0 victories.
However, Missouri is coming off a loss to Iowa State on Friday as it fell 1-0 at home to end the regular season.
The Bears finished the season a weekend earlier than the Tigers and have not played in a game since the regular season finale on Oct. 23 when they rolled past the Oklahoma Sooners 3-1.
Jobson said she is confident the extra rest the team received going into the tournament will help her team.
Jobson said she feels the team had a successful week of practice and preparation.
“I think you could look at it both ways, but for us, I think we were able to have a really good week of practice and work on us,” she said. “We were able to rest the kids we needed to and still get all the work done that we needed.”
Jobson said the keys to beating Missouri will be discipline in the back of the field and composure in front of the goal.
She also said the team is excited to be back in the Big 12 tournament but is not happy to just get this far.
She felt like that was the mindset of the 2009 team that made the tournament and lost 2-0 to Texas A&M in the first round.
“I think this team is more mature,” Jobson said. “From our seniors all the way down to our freshmen, I think they have the attitude that they can show up and play with anyone in the country as long as they are focused and determined.”
The Tigers are averaging 17.5 shots per game and are holding their opponents to 14.8 attempts per contest. They outscored their opponents 35-20 in the regular season.
The Bears average nearly the same mark of shots per game with 17.1 but the Baylor defense has allowed opponents to only take an average of 8.4 shots per game. The Bears scored 28 more goals than their opponents in the regular season by a count of 39-11.
The winner of Wednesday’s first-round matchup between the Bears and Tigers will face the winner of the No. 2 Texas A&M vs. No. 7 Kansas game at 8 p.m. Friday at the Blossom Soccer Complex in San Antonio.