By Jeffrey Swindoll
Baylor soccer kicks off another weekend in Waco after a dramatic 2-1 win at No. 23 BYU last Monday. The Bears put their perfect home record on the line against the University of Incarnate Word at 7 p.m. Friday and Northwestern State University at 1 p.m. Sunday.
Baylor co-head coach Marci Jobson said last weekend’s matchups demonstrated just how bad and good her team can be this season.
“It was a tremendously emotional weekend,” Jobson said. “If they don’t bring the heart, the fight, the spirit, being prepared to give their bodies up for the game, they’re not going to win. I think we realized a great lesson — we can beat anybody and we can lose to anybody.”
Senior goalkeeper Michelle Kloss and her defense are coming off the “game of their lives” as Jobson called their match against BYU, shutting out one of the nation’s best team from open play for 90 minutes. Rock-solid defense is central to Jobson’s approach and vision for Baylor soccer. Digging out a result against a great team like BYU put some things in perspective for the Bears.
“We have to come out and we have to fight harder,” Kloss said. “It really made us dig in and see what we were made out of. Marci always says that we’re a mediocre team without our tenacity and without our fight.”
Jobson’s words of fight and intensity resonated in the players after the tumultuous weekend the team experienced against Utah Valley and BYU, and carries on into the game plan for their upcoming matches this weekend.
Incarnate Word and Northwestern State are non-conference opponents for Baylor. The strategic approach for the Bears is still very much introspective. The preparation for this weekend is still focused on working out the kinks of the lineup and being mentally committed to their own tactics.
“I think we can be very good, but, again, it’s going to be a lot about mentality,” Jobson said. “It’s going to be dependent on a young team getting really good at being consistent on their passion, what Baylor soccer’s always been about.”
The defense has worked well so far this season, shutting out all opponents at home. With some players playing in slightly different positions, there was uncertainty how Baylor’s defense would carry on their consistent strength over the years. Kloss had nothing but praise for the defenders in front of her, noting positive results from the past and great potential in the team for the rest of the season.
“I have their back and they have mine,” Kloss said. “I can mess up 100 times and they’ll be there 100 times for me, and that’s perfect. Defense goes all the way to the forwards, so it’s definitely a team thing and they’re awesome.”
The team is still developing and understanding their strengths and weaknesses, Jobson said. At the moment, Baylor soccer is focused on making sure everything in their control is firing on all cylinders before worrying about way other players and coaches attack them.
University of Incarnate Word (0-2-0) dropped its first two games of the season, including a 4-0 loss to University of Texas at El Paso, and Northwestern State (1-3-0) is currently on a three-game losing streak.
“We’re all looking for two wins this weekend,” sophomore defender Emory Cason said. “We know now especially that they’re not going to come easy. Marci always talks about what takes to win and how that takes everything you have all the time. So we’re excited to play at home again.”
Baylor soccer will play Incarnate Word at 7 p.m. on Friday. It will then play Northwestern State at 1 p.m. on Sunday.