By Greg DeVries
Scoring is hard in soccer. If it were easy, more games would have football scores. Junior defender Kat Ludlow has made scoring a habit recently.
She has recorded two goals in four games despite playing defense.
Her key is to execute on set pieces.
“[I] just try to get in position and just find the ball,” Ludlow said. “We huddle up beforehand. Somebody chooses each person to run into a different position. That makes sure we’re very spread out across the box and that everybody is in a scoring position.”
In soccer, a set piece occurs once play has stopped, such as a corner kick or a free kick. This past summer, Ludlow worked to expand her game.
Her first goal of the year came from one of junior midfielder Vic Hoffman’s corner kicks against Northwestern State.
“She is mainly focused on defensive heading most of the time,” Hoffman said. “Over the summer when we played on F.C. Dallas her attacking headers just got exponentially better. I had been practicing my corner kicks, and I guess we just found each other.”
When a soccer ball is flying through the air, the average person would try to avoid being hit in the face.
Not so for Ludlow.
She bullies her way through defenses and sticks her grill right in the path of the ball.
“Kat is such a good target honestly because she works so incredibly hard and because she is so forceful and so tenacious,” junior defender Taylor Heatherly said. “She is determined to get to that ball… she works hard and she just [over]powers everybody.”
Heatherly assisted on Ludlow’s second goal of the season.
Her 40-yard free kick landed inside the 18-yard box where Ludlow was waiting.
She headed the ball across the goalkeeper’s body and into the net.
“I just kind of put [the ball] in there,” Heatherly said. “You just saw her jump up above everybody and just get a head on it… She really did the work and totally beat everybody in the air and scored.”
Ludlow admits that she is willing to fight her way to the ball and throw some elbows if necessary.
“I think we all are. I think we’re all capable of doing that,” Ludlow said. “We have a set position that we’re going to, but if the ball is anywhere in your vicinity, you push people. You just want to get to it.”
There is more to scoring on set pieces than just bowling through the opposing team. It is the combination of power and agility that makes the play work.
“Making sharp runs is the biggest thing. If you don’t have sharp runs, then you’re really easy to mark. We work on changing speeds and getting into the mix of things,” Heatherly said.
Head coach Marci Jobson has stressed the importance of executing on set pieces this season.
Baylor’s aggressive style lends itself towards getting plenty of shots.
In fact, Baylor soccer has outshot its opponents 89-28 this season.
Taking advantage of free kicks and corner kicks has been a positive for the team, but Ludlow is quick to compliment her teammates.
“Our set piece kickers have done really well this year. They have put a lot of focus into their kicks,” Ludlow said. “We try to make sure to get to those balls, and those balls have been placed very nicely. It really helps having a good ball and having a lot of people crash to get to it.”