By Parmida Schahhosseini
Offense wins games, but defense wins championships. No. 9 Baylor soccer puts extra emphasis on its stout backline. The defense is the bread and butter of the team and a central reason why Baylor has a 29-game unbeaten streak.
Baylor co-head coach Marci Jobson prides herself on implementing her system of team defense. With the extra emphasis put on that position, having a strong backline is vital to the Bears success.
“I feel good,” Jobson said. “They are playing solid. They’re playing tough and they’re going to have to definitely bring that on Friday.”
The backline sets the tone of the game because in Jobson’s team defense, every position player is required to play defense at some point of the game. In this system, communication is key because if a defender gets beat, another player must step up and defend.
“It’s really important to communicate since it’s man to help defense,” Polley said. “You’re going to get beat at times and you can’t just be focused only on your man. You have to be aware of what is going on around you.”
There will be times when the Bears have trouble generating offense. Against McNeese State, Baylor took 32 shots but failed to put one in the net. The defense limited the Cowgirls to five shots.
Underclassmen make up the majority of the defense, but senior defenders Taylor Heatherly and Selby Polley lead the way.
As the only two upperclassmen on defense, Jobson puts more pressure on them to perform.
“Because of my position, Marci is really big on me being a vocal leader,” Heatherly said. “She refers to me as the general. A lot of the times it’s just talking, communicating because I have girls who are working so hard in front of me. A lot of the time my job is to give little reminders and to keep everyone tuned in and keep everything organized because I can see the field from where I am. I’m not marking, so I don’t necessarily have to worry about always tracking a girl.”
Baylor is the only team in the Big 12 without a loss and has only given up one goal in eight matches. The Bears have limited opponent’s shots this season, giving up only 71 shots. Baylor has held opponent shot percentage to .014.
“Taylor is big on communicating with us since she sees the entire field,” Polley said. “We all have to step up together when the ball is on the other side, and we have to be on the same page. We’re all in a solid line together not dropped off too far and Klossy [junior goalkeeper Michelle Kloss] has to be talking to us to let us know what’s going on behind us.”
When Baylor scores, it’s hard to retaliate because it takes off pressure from the backfield which makes the defense stronger. The psychological effect it has on other position players can be noted by the aggressive style displayed after scoring. The backfield tightens up, making it difficult for opposing teams to score.