By Parmida Schahhosseini
No. 7 Baylor soccer’s ability was on full display against Missouri and No. 19 Texas A&M. The Bears only allowed one goal en route to a 2-1 win over the Tigers on Friday and a 0-0 draw against the Aggies on Sunday.
“It was as soulful performance,” Baylor co-head coach Marci Jobson said. “Soulful. As a coach, it blew me away. I couldn’t ask for more. We had chances and they had chances. That’s what it’s all about between two great teams. Overall, it was a great soccer match and I’m just proud of the Baylor Bears.”
Despite coming into the weekend with losing records against both teams, which includes losses against Texas A&M dating back to 2002, this Baylor team came out with confidence and ready for a fight. Baylor’s midfield play set the pace of the game and clogged up the middle. Despite some success on the outside, the opposition didn’t have much space to work with inside the circle. That allowed Baylor to control the midfield.
“Marci’s attitude and our team, just the components of it, everybody is so bought into the team especially this year,” senior midfielder Kat Ludlow said. “Everybody is on board to do the best we can. We had a great start and we want to continue that.”
Baylor’s physical play on the defense set the tone throughout both games. The Bears gave up 16 shots against Missouri and 14 against Texas A&M, but both opposing teams have explosive offenses with the ability to score at any moment. Baylor continued to fight and only allowed one goal between the two teams.
“We have a team defense and our system plays into that,” senior midfielder Kat Ludlow said. “We have a high-pressure system, so if there is a breakdown anywhere on the field you have plenty of girls coming back to try and help that, to try and fill in behind. We work on set pieces all the time. We work on all the components of the defense. Marci always says defense first so we worry mostly about that and then the shots will come.”
Baylor was on the way to a fifth consecutive shutout, but allowed a late goal, which came off a scrum in the box from eight yards out by Missouri junior midfielder Kaysie Clark.
Against Missouri, Baylor started out strong with junior forward Natalie Huggins’ taking the first shot of the game. Twenty minutes into the game, Missouri began to go on the attack with back-to-back shots, both of which were saved by junior goalkeeper Michelle Kloss.
“I’ll take efficiency any day,” Jobson said. “Kloss had some huge saves, huge. We played well defensively. We generated enough shots to win and that’s what you hope for.”
The Bears had to rely more on junior goalkeeper Michelle Kloss this weekend than the previous matches, but she came up with crucial saves in both games despite giving up a lone goal. One of Kloss’ six saves came 23 seconds after the start of the second half, when she prevented the tying score.
Baylor scored twice against the Missouri defense when senior midfielder Alex Klein scored off an assist by sophomore forward Bri Campos and Huggins delivered a score from the left corner to the right side of the net.
On Sunday, it was a different story. The Bears came into the game against the Aggies without being shutout in 14 consecutive games, but the Aggies broke that streak with the game resulting in a scoreless tie.
The Aggies threatened the net early as junior forward Shea Groom took the first shot of the game off a breakaway under two minutes into the game. Kloss saved the shot. While Groom is officially listed as a forward, Texas A&M head coach G Guerrieri utilized her as a midfielder because of her athleticism.
The Bears responded with back-to-back shots from Ludlow and freshman midfielder Ashley York, who along with Campos led the team with two shots on goal. Baylor was sound inside the circle using the midfield as an advantage. The Bears closed in on spaces making it difficult for the Aggies to operate.
Despite the midfield play, the Aggies utilized the outside and fast breaks against Baylor. In the 89th minute, Kloss saved a potential game-winning shot from Groom to send the game into overtime.
Baylor had chances to score as six of 13 shots were on goal. In the 62nd minute, off a cross by senior forward Vic Hoffman, a header by Huggins just missed wide right. Campos also came close to a winning goal in the first overtime period, but Texas A&M junior goalkeeper Jordan Day tipped her shot. Campos attacked again in the final 10 seconds of the final overtime as she fired off a 30-yard shot, but Day made a leaping grab to end the game in a tie.
With the tie Baylor extended its program-record unbeaten streak to 27 games and is also unbeaten in 13 road games.
Baylor will begin a season-long seven-match home stand against Cal Poly at 7 p.m. Friday at Betty Lou Mays Field.