By Parmida Schahhosseini
Baylor soccer enjoyed its best season in program history last year that ended with a trip to the NCAA Sweet Sixteen.
Despite a heartbreaking loss to eventual national champion North Carolina, Baylor is looking to build upon last year’s success.
According to Top Drawer Soccer rankings, Baylor is ranked No. 10. In the Big 12 preseason poll the Bears are No. 3 for the second straight year. Co-head coach Marci Jobson isn’t letting the extra attention or the lack of respect distract her team.
“I really don’t bother myself that much with those types of things because it takes away from my focus, which is to get these girls, as good as they can be,” Marci Jobson said. “I don’t care honestly what anybody thinks about if they think we’re great, if they think we stink; all I care about is how good we can actually become. I try to get my girls as focused on that piece as well as our coaching staff that it doesn’t really matter what anybody in the country thinks about us. All that matters is what we think about ourselves and how hard we work to be the best team that we can become.”
In the past two years Baylor has risen to the occasion with back-to-back trips to the NCAA Tournament.
Last season Baylor finished with a 19-1-5 record en route to its first Big 12 Championship title. Baylor also finished with a 9-0-0 home record and hopes to continue being a threat at home.
“It’s always fun to play at home and to bring it back to our roots,” senior defender Taylor Heatherly said. “Traveling is awesome, but it’s such a fun atmosphere here at Baylor.”
Baylor’s home field advantage has been key to its success. In the last two seasons Baylor had a record of 19 wins with only one tie and a loss.
However, the Bears have been effective on the road as well, going 4-1-1 in 2011 and 6-1-5 in 2012.
Baylor lost three productive forwards, including Lisa Sliwinski and Dana Larsen, who finished fourth and fifth in scoring in program history.
Despite the losses, Baylor still has plenty of scorers.
Last season, 17 players scored at least one goal for Baylor, and only four were seniors. Now Baylor is faced with the task of producing consistent scoring.
“I think it just shows that it gives an opportunity for people to step up,” senior defender Kat Ludlow said. “Yes, we lost powerhouses all over the field and we lost goal scorers, but that just gives the opportunity to other girls to step up and fill their shoes. I think that we have plenty of girls up top who have the potential.”
Despite losing some of its top goal scorers, Baylor is bringing back plenty of talent. Baylor stresses team defense and are bringing back some key defenders. Ludlow, who is a candidate for the 2013 CLASS Award, is the first Baylor soccer player to achieve such a feat. Senior defenders Selby Polley and Taylor Heatherly are also returning.
The returning starters have the experience that can make Baylor successful. Sophomore forward Bri Campos is poised to have a good season. As a freshman, Campos recorded three goals and four assists in her first year. Baylor has enjoyed success, but this year is a new team and for Jobson it’s all about improvement.
“It’s always hard for me to think back to last year because to me that’s so in the past and we have a new group of girls,” Jobson said. “I’m really excited about this group and seeing how good we can make this team. We have some experience and we have some new players. We just have to continue to develop the team and our goal is every game every practice to just keep getting better. I think we are good team right now and I want to see how good we can be in 20 games from now.”