Baylor soccer unbeaten in 29 straight matches

By Parmida Schahhosseini
Sports Writer

No. 7 Baylor soccer toppled Cal Poly 4-0 on Friday for its 14th straight home win and then faced McNeese State in a 0-0 draw on Sunday to keep their 29 game unbeaten streak alive. The Bears have not lost a match in the last 387 days.

The Bears got off to an early start against Cal Poly with a header by senior midfielder Kat Ludlow, who scored off a long free kick, which senior defender Taylor Heatherly took. Baylor had trouble finishing on Sunday, getting shut out despite taking 32 shots.

“It’s like Friday night when you put four away like that and a night like tonight you have 32 shots and it’s hard to put them away,” Baylor co-head coach Marci Jobson said.

McNeese State’s defense executed its game plan and played as if a draw were a success. The Cowgirls only took one shot in the second half and rarely entered Baylor territory.

“Kudos to that team,” Jobson said. “They had a ton of heart and a ton of fight. Scooter [McNeese State head coach Scooter Savoie] really got them to play great defense. It’s one of those games where we weren’t able to put one away.”

McNeese State continued to crowd the box and waited for Baylor’s defense to make a mistake. While the Bears didn’t make a mistake defensively, the offense couldn’t capitalize on opportunities. Despite multiple scrums and breakaways, the Bears came up short of a goal. The best chance Baylor had came in the second half when senior midfielder Alex Klein ran down the field with a breakaway ball, but hesitated just enough to allow the goalie to reset and the defense to catch up.

“It’s just those little moments,” Ludlow said. “We need to focus that much more on getting it in. We did have a lot of scrambles and we did try when we got into the box, but we need to focus on finishing.”

While the midfielders and forwards struggled, the team defense continued to be Baylor’s shining star. The opponents had four shots in the first half, but were shut down afterward. McNeese State didn’t get its first shot of the second half until there were less than three minutes left in regulation.

“The defense was incredible,” Ludlow said. “They executed their game plan well”

The Bears had plenty of chances in both halves and in overtime. Sophomore defender Hadley Young had two headers that almost went in, which were two of the 17 saves made by sophomore goalkeeper Lauren Sestak.

“The biggest thing from this game is that we’ve learned no matter if it’s 110 minutes, you have to come and play every single one of those minutes and you can’t waste time,” Heatherly said. “This is just on the backburner. We’ll use it as motivation and we just take it as part of the journey.”

The Bears had better luck against Cal Poly as they took an early lead and never looked back. The Bears scored four goals in the first half and let the defense finish the job.

“It’s a confidence builder,” Hovden said. “That’s what the forwards need to do and it comes down to defense too. Our defense is shutting other teams down and as long as we can get a goal in there – that’s what we need to do.”

After the header by Ludlow, Baylor continued to be aggressive by pressing forward. Cal Poly tried to counter, but was too aggressive for the referee’s liking. The referee awarded Baylor with a penalty. Senior midfielder Larissa Campos drilled the penalty kick into the net. Her sister, sophomore forward Bri Campos also got in on the action with a header four minutes later after a great cross by junior forward Justine Hovden.

Kloss was active in the match and also saved her second penalty of the year with a block.

“It’s definitely a confidence destroyer to come out and have a team just score on you quickly, but that’s what our forwards are great at,” Kloss said. “They are great at coming out and pressing strong. Our whole team is, from the back to the mids and the forwards. We just come out and press quickly. That’s what we’re known for.”

Hovden’s night wasn’t finished. In the closing minutes of the half, Hovden shot a laser from 45 yards out, catching the goalie off guard for the final score.

The Bears hope to keep their 29 game unbeaten streak alive against North Texas at 7 p.m. Friday at Betty Lou Mays Field.