By Jeffrey Swindoll
Baylor soccer kicked off the fall season of sports with a golden-goal overtime winner from Bri Campos to defeat Rice 1-0 Friday night at Betty Lou Mays Field.
BU started the half with most of the possession. Freshman forward Precious Akanyirige started the game at forward for the Bears. Akanyiridge produced a mismatch with her physical superiority over Rice’s defenders. She was able to get two shots off in the first half, one on goal.
Baylor was most effective when redshirt sophomore forward Jordan Hatler came on for Akanyirige with about 30 minutes left in the first half. Hatler blazed past defenders on a couple breakaways producing some of the team’s best chances before halftime.
The best scoring chance for Baylor came off sophomore midfielder Ashley York’s shot from outside the box that thumped the crossbar.
Rice did not create many of their own offensive chances in the first half, getting outshot 9-2. From the two times they pulled the trigger, Rice came very near to getting a go-ahead goal in the first half to shock the Lady Bears on their home turf.
It was all square at the half. Rice were not favored to pull it off Friday night, but they showed enough quality with the few chances they had to keep Baylor honest going into the second half.
The second half followed along the same path the first half did. Baylor held most of the possession, but Rice continued to antagonize with a few threatening counterattacks throughout the second half.
Senior goalkeeper Michelle Kloss had to come up with some big saves Friday, but her penalty kick save was her most critical play in the game. After sophomore defender Lindsday Bums hit the ball with her arm in the penalty box, the referee pointed directly to the spot to award Rice with a penalty kick within the final 15 minutes of the game.
It looked like an upset was in the making, but Kloss had other plans. Kloss dove to her left to stop Rice’s Lauren Hughes from breaking the deadlock late into the second half.
“I just kind of went with my instinct,” Kloss said. “I got pretty lucky and it was great for the defense to come and clear out the ball after the save. I couldn’t have done it without them.”
Regulation ended 0-0, setting the stage for an epic finish for the fans on a warm night in Waco.
On the game-winning play, senior forward Natalie Huggins put in the effort down the flank to get past her defender and put a cross in. The ball fell to Baylor’s rising star, junior midfielder Bri Campos, who made no mistake about it. Campos gathered the ball, cut to her shooting foot and immediately cracked a shot from 20 yards out to find the back of the net through traffic.
“I think that was just pure hustle on Natalie’s part getting down the line and beating that player,” Campos said. “I was pretty far out and held my run a little bit. I saw the player come out, cut it back and thankfully got a good strike on it.”
An overtime win already under the belt could prove to be vital psychological advantage for the Bears as they go through a season that could see many more overtime nail-biters like the one against Rice.
Up next, Baylor soccer takes on Houston Baptist at 1 p.m. Sunday at Betty Lou Mays Field.
“I said to the players they have about five more minutes to enjoy themselves and then we get in the ice tubs and recover our legs,” Jobson said. “Houston Baptist is a scrappy, hard-nosed team and we’ve got to get our legs ready for that one.”