By Jeffrey Swindoll
Baylor soccer travels to Illinois for another big two-match weekend against No. 19 Notre Dame at 6 p.m. today and Illinois State at 1 p.m. on Sunday.
The Bears are rolling on a three-game winning streak, after handing a 2-1 to No. 23 BYU and two 5-0 routs over Incarnate Word and Northwestern State last week.
“It’s always great to get a win like we did against BYU, but we have to be humble,” freshman forward Precious Akanyirige said. “We always know that every game is going to be a struggle. We’re not going into this game cocky at all.”
Baylor has avoided any notion of becoming a one-trick pony in terms of scoring. The Bears 5-0 win over Northwestern State saw a different player score each time. The goals are relatively well distributed across the lineup. This helps build confidence for players on an individual and team level, junior midfielder Bri Campos said.
“It’s good to know there’s not just one person that’s going to pull through,” Campos said. “We have a deep bench and everyone can hold their own and come in to make a difference.”
The Bears are two weeks away from the start of their Big 12 conference competition. The Bears look to their games this weekend as another good measuring stick for where they stand as a team.
“For us, with momentum going forward, knowing that we can play against teams like Notre Dame some of the bigger schools,” jCampos said. “I think we have a good team and not a lot of people know about us yet, and I think Notre Dame will be a good test for us to see how good we really are and how good we can be.”
A quality opponent like Notre Dame provides the Bears with plenty to think about in tonight’s game. The Fighting Irish are 3-2-1 this season and hosted the Bears in the regular season only once before.
“Baylor is a good team, and they are going to battle and be very physical,” Notre Dame head coach Theresa Romagnolo. “We are going to have to be tough and match that kind of energy on the field, while also bringing quality.”
Notre Dame is coming off a 2-0 home win over No. 16 Santa Clara last Friday and a 0-0 tie with No. 4 Stanford on Sunday in Romagnolo’s first season at Notre Dame.
Illinois State (3-3-0) is capable of pulling off high-scoring results, after beating Northern Illinois 4-1, Central Michigan 5-1 and Sam Houston State 4-0 in the first three games of the season. The Redbirds are on a three-game losing streak though, getting outscored 11-3 in the three-game period.
After falling 2-1 to Utah Valley, an opponent that the Bears felt they should have beaten, Jobson said she wants to see her team start and finish this weekend with the right mentality.
“In my mind, it’s about replicating the same energy and passion in every single game you play and trying to be the very best,” Jobson said. “I think if we can concentrate on doing that, we’re going to give a great game and possibly have a victory. If we give anything less than our best then we’re going to be able to compete.”