By Greg DeVries
While the volleyball team basks in the rays of Hawaii, the Lady Bears soccer team remains in Waco, looking to bounce back from its 2-1 overtime loss to No. 11 Long Beach State, at 7 p.m. today against Nebraska.
Baylor will look to move to 4-1 on the season, but the Cornhuskers will pose a bit of a challenge despite their 1-3 record.
Baylor and Nebraska play a similar style of soccer. Both teams emphasize physicality and pressure.
“It’s always a tight game. They play kind of similar to us. They’re hard-nosed. They fight hard. They’re good in the air. I just think it’s going to be a battle,” head coach Marci Jobson said. “We’re definitely going to have to come out guns blazing and be ready for a great Nebraska team.”
The Bears have historically struggled with the Cornhuskers. Baylor is 6-12-2 all-time against Nebraska.
Recently the story has been different. The Bears are 5-2-2 against Nebraska since 2003, but last season’s game ended in a 1-1 draw.
“They attack well. They have a very good presence on the field both defensively and offensively,” junior defender Kat Ludlow said. “We just have to match up correctly and give it our all. It really [comes down to] who shows up to play.”
The Cornhuskers may have struggled to open the season, but they have been hot lately.
Nebraska began the season 0-2, losing to Oklahoma and Drake, but stepped up their game in a 2-3 loss to No. 10 Virginia Tech.
The Huskers started this week with a 2-1 win over New Mexico, so the team is starting to pick things up.
“Nebraska will always be dangerous I think,” senior forward Dana Larsen said. “Every team is a challenge. We’re coming out, preparing the same way to take on whatever team, whatever their record is, but Nebraska is good.”
Despite the fact that Nebraska left the Big 12 in 2010, it remained on Baylor’s schedule since their departure. The familiarity between the two teams adds a little bit of fuel to the competitive fire.
“The physical battles are probably [the matchups] that we have to focus on,” junior midfielder Vic Hoffman said. “It’s a hard matchup because you’re going to get beat up, and they’re going to get beat up…That’s why it comes down to heart. It’s one physical battle against another physical battle. So the only thing you have left is who wants it more.”
Heart is hard to measure.
It doesn’t appear in the stat column, but Larsen can see it in the team’s overall improvement.
“We’ve been working hard in the offseason. We’ve been building a program and bringing in new recruits. I have high hopes for this team. I think we all believe in each other and what we can accomplish this year,” Larsen said.
Going into tonight’s game, the team is confident that they can get back to their winning ways, especially if the game comes down to heart.
“I bet that’s going to be us,” Hoffman said. “Heart is our thing.”