By Greg DeVries
After a long regular season and a win in the Big 12 Tournament, the No. 11 Baylor women’s soccer team has advanced to the NCAA tournament.
The Bears are a No. 3 seed in the big dance and will travel to Arizona State to take on the Sun Devils today at 8 p.m.
Though the Bears have a 17-1-4 record, they will not host any games during the tournament because of what is being called an “administrative error.”
“We’re not sent on the road because of some disrespect,” head coach Marci Jobson said. “It was just an honest mistake with the Baylor administration.”
Though Baylor is the higher seed, Arizona State has a good team.
The Sun Devils finished the season 10-8-2 after playing a difficult Pac 12 schedule, and they are currently riding a four-game winning streak.
“They a good team,” Jobson said. “Obviously they’ve played in a very competitive conference, so they have faced great teams…It’s nothing we haven’t faced up to this point, but they do have some very good pieces we are going to have to take care of.”
Baylor advanced to the second round of the tournament last year but fell to North Carolina.
UNC is the top seed in the Bears’ region this year, but the team has more experience in dealing with high stakes.
“A lot of us…don’t really have last year in our minds,” senior forward Larissa Campos said. “This is a completely new season, a completely new year. We have new goals. We’re just taking it one game at a time. We’re not even looking past Arizona State because they’re ultimately all we have right now. It could be our last game.”
One concern for Baylor is the fatigue after the Big 12 Tournament. The Bears traveled to San Antonio and played three games in five days, and that can be very taxing on even the most fit players.
“There definitely was fatigue,” senior forward Dana Larsen said. “We had to go deep into our lineup, and that was great. It got to show our depth, and those girls did great.”
On the field, the Sun Devils like to possess the ball. Baylor has played many teams that play this way, but Arizona State has not seen a team that forces the issue like Baylor does.
“We’ll have to come out strong and ready, but I think they’ll be a little bit blindsided by our man-marking system because I don’t think anybody in their conference marks the way we do,” Campos said. “As long as we play with the grit and the edge that we always play with, we should do well with them.”
Offensively, Baylor is averaging more than 22 shots per game and allowing just fewer than seven shots per game. Arizona State, however, recorded 17.1 shots per game while giving up nearly 14. Baylor also has an advantage in goal differential.
The Bears are winning by an average margin of victory of 1.86 goals, while Arizona State is winning by an average margin of victory of 0.1 goals.