No. 9 Baylor soccer embracing tough schedule

Baylor soccer tied McNeese State 0-0 at the Betty Lou Mays Soccer Field on Sunday, September 15, 2013. Travis Taylor | Lariat Photo Editor
Baylor soccer tied McNeese State 0-0 at the Betty Lou Mays Soccer Field on Sunday, September 15, 2013.
Travis Taylor | Lariat Photo Editor
By Parmida Schahhosseini
Sports Writer

It’s another battle for No. 9 Baylor soccer versus North Texas at 7 p.m. today and Boise State at 1 p.m. Sunday.

“North Texas is extremely athletic,” Baylor co-head coach Marci Jobson said. “They’re fighters, and they’re very good at their style of play, which is similar to ours. They’re on kind of a hot roll this year. This is probably the toughest North Texas team I’ve seen, so it’s going to be a really good game.”

The Mean Green (6-2) has had its way with Big 12 teams, beating TCU 2-0 and romping Oklahoma 5-0. North Texas is getting offensive production from freshman forward Rachel Holden, who was Conference USA Offensive Player of the Week. Holden notched her second hat trick of the season against Oklahoma and has scored nine goals in eight games. Sophomore forward Amber Haggerty also adds a threat, having scored three goals this season. Four other players have scored twice and five more have scored at least one goal. The offense ranks 20th nationally at 3.13 goals per game.

The Bears’ defense will have its hands full trying to defend a high-powered North Texas offense, which comes in the game with 25 goals scored. Baylor’s defense has only allowed one goal this season and is second in the nation in goals against average at .118 and in shutout percentage at .875, both of which lead the Big 12. The Bears are also third in the nation in save percentage at .955. The defense also hasn’t conceded a goal in the first half this season.

“They’re going to have to definitely bring that on Friday,” Jobson said. “They have three jets to play against, three really fast girls.”

The Mean Green defense struggled early, giving up seven goals in its first four games, but in its last four games, the team hasn’t conceded a goal. Two key reasons are the play of sophomore goalkeeper Haley Riley and senior defender Shelly Holt.

Boise State (4-2-2) will also pose a challenge. The Broncos come in with a two-game win streak, after taking a program-high 37 shots in a 3-1 win against North Dakota. Sophomore midfielder Brooke Heidemann took nine shots herself. Heidemann leads the team with four goals and an assist. Senior forward Ashley Hruby leads the team with three assists. The team has outshot its opponent 127 to 68, but only capitalized with nine goals. Boise State head coach Jim Thomas is confident in the team’s preparation.

“Same way as we prepare for absolutely for everybody,” Thomas said. “It’s going to become a dull message for our players at times, but every opponent offers the same potential for us. A potential loss, a potential tie or a potential win. We’re prepared to beat the best teams in the country.”

Baylor’s defense versus the Boise State offense will be a key matchup in deciding which team has the advantage on the pitch. Baylor’s defensive fortress makes it hard for even the best scorers to score, but the Broncos hope to frustrate the defense by creating shots. If the Baylor defense can limit shots, it will be a favorable matchup for the Bears.

“Our team is based off of defense a lot,” Polley said. “Even from the four line all the way back, that’s what we work on. It’s a pretty big deal to keep. I think we’ve allowed one goal or so this season, so its pretty cool that our goal team is a solid defense like that. Kloss has been doing a good job. She’s made two huge PK saves for us so it’s been pretty big time.”

Boise State’s defense has given up six goals in eight games, but they did have a four-game shutout streak from Sept. 1-13. Similar to UNT, Boise State conceded most of its goals early in the year. The defense has a .088 shot percentage and allow 8.5 shots per game.