The Baylor women’s soccer team saw its best season last fall with an overall record of 19-1-5 and made the program’s first-ever appearance in the NCAA Sweet Sixteen game against the University of North Carolina.
Although the team experienced a devastating loss in penalty kicks to the Tar Heels, three senior stand-out players didn’t want their time on the field to end just yet.
Senior forward Lisa Sliwinski, senior midfielder Hanna Gilmore and senior defender Carlie Davis all made the decision to try and continue their soccer careers in the newly formed National Women’s Soccer League.
“I remember sitting on the bus after we lost to UNC and thinking to myself, ‘this can’t be it’,” Sliwinski said. “I was done playing for Baylor but I didn’t think my days playing soccer were over.”
After the demise of the Women’s Professional Soccer league in 2012, women soccer players in the United States lacked a place to play at the professional level for an entire year.
The NWSL was created in place of the WPS,= and will start play this spring with eight teams in the league.
Sliwinski described the timing of the new professional league’s creation as perfect.
She couldn’t play college soccer anymore, but she was still fit enough from last season to jump into an intense and competitive soccer environment right away.
Each of the eight teams are made up of players from the United States, Canada and Mexico’s national teams.
The college draft took place last Friday and added four more college players to each roster.
The rest of the spots will be made up of players picked up in team tryouts that will be held throughout the next two months.
Although Sliwinski, Gilmore, and Davis did not get picked up in Friday’s college draft, they are determined to continue their campaign to play professionally.
The trio plans to travel to Washington, D.C., this weekend to attend the open tryout of the Washington Spirit.
“It would have been awesome to get picked up in the college draft,” Gilmore said. “But I think this will be a great experience for us. I’ve never done anything like this, and I just feel blessed for the opportunity.”
As a part of head coach Marci Jobson’s first recruiting class at Baylor, the three are considered a major part of “building the dynasty” she envisioned when first taking the job.
Jobson said Sliwinski, Gilmore and Davis are prepared physically and their time at Baylor has prepared them mentally for the intensity and high competition they will be up against.
“You have to have a consistent practice,” Jobson said. “Those coaches may only be watching you for 10 minutes of the whole session. You have to be at the top of your game at all moments.”
Jobson also expressed her excitement for the future of the program and said this could be a turning point for Baylor soccer.
“We are now turning the corner to not only be a winning program on the field and in the classroom, but also a developmental program for kids who want to play professionally.”
Davis also thinks pursuing a professional career will benefit the program.
“In the future, girls are going to see Baylor as a place that can prepare them to play at the next level. It’s cool that we can set that precedent for the program,” Davis said.