By Daniel Wallace
Betty Lou Mays Field was the site of history in the making on Saturday evening as the Baylor soccer team won its first NCAA tournament game in program history.
The Bears (15-3-3) dominated the Texas State Bobcats (14-6-1) in a 3-0 victory to advance to the second round of the tournament. In front of 951 fans, the second-largest crowd this season, the Bears also tied the 1998 Big 12 Champion team for the second-most victories in a season.
Head Coach Marci Jobson said the team played with a certain control that it had been missing in recent games, such as the Big 12 tournament tie against Missouri that it eventually lost on penalty kicks. She also credited the fast start the Bears were able to get off to as a reason for the win.
“I think they came out so strong,” she said. “They played like professionals. They came out all over these girls. They played with an edge. They played on fire. I thought they did great.”
The top three goal-scorers for the Bears each added to their season total with a score on Saturday evening.
Junior midfielder Lisa Sliwinski notched her ninth goal of the season to get the scoring started for the Bears in the 24th minute. After an assist from sophomore forward Vic Hoffman, the goal came on a one-on-one with a Bobcat defender, and she kicked the ball into the back of the net toward the far post. The goal that gave the Bears the 1-0 advantage was her fourth goal in the last three games.
The Bears took a 7-0 shot advantage and 1-0 lead into halftime.
Junior forward Dana Larsen said the Bobcats played just as she expected them to — hard-nosed, tough, very direct and similar to the play of the Bears. She credited the calmness of the team for the victory, even though the nerves were heightened before the game because of the magnitude of it.
“I personally think there is always some jitters; I think you play better when you have a little bit of jitters,” she said. “We were calm; we were confident; we were relaxed by the time we all stepped on the field together and that’s what is important.”
The Bobcats played a very tough, physical game, Sliwinski said, and did not let up or given in at any point in the game.
“We did our best to not draw anything up this week,” she said. “Texas State is a team that has so much heart and so much fight that if you don’t take them seriously they will be all over you. They came out to fight. That was a rough game in the box. I don’t know how many times I got hit.”
In the 58th minute, junior midfielder Hanna Gilmore made a sliding score from six yards for the 2-0 lead. Larsen later put the game away with under three minutes remaining to seal the 3-0 victory for the Bears. With that goal, she tied Molly Cameron for the fifth-most goals in a season; Cameron had 11 in 2000.
In total, the Bears took 15 shots with nine on goal, as compared to the Bobcats’ two shots, neither of which was on goal.
Baylor will play the No. 19 ranked North Carolina Tar Heels at 3:30 p.m. Friday in Gainesville, Fla., in the second round of the championship tournament.
The team brings in a new sense of confidence into the game against the Tar Heels and will look to prove itself as a legitimate power in women’s college soccer.
“It’s time,” Sliwinski said. “We’re ready. We’re confident in ourselves now. We’ve gotten to the point where we know we’re good.”