By Jeffrey Swindoll
No. 18 Kansas (9-2) blanked Baylor (6-4-1) in the conference opener for both teams in a tight 1-0 contest at Betty Lou Mays Field on Friday night. KU forward Liana Salazar had the lone goal in the game, early into the first half with a low cross put into the box, beating two Baylor defenders as she flicked a glancing header past senior goalkeeper Michelle Kloss. It was the Bears’ first loss at home this season.
“Obviously we didn’t get the result we wanted, but we can’t be disappointed by the effort,” Baylor co-head coach Paul Jobson said. “We couldn’t have asked for more.”
Salazar, tied at the top of the conference in goals scored this season, looked threatening throughout the first half, posing one of the tougher challenges that the Bears have faced this season. Her creativity was crucial to the Jayhawks’ game plan against the Bears.
KU’s goal was the first goal the Bears conceded at home in the 2014 season. The Bears were in uncharted territory, going down early at home. After Salazar’s goal, the Bears gathered atop the goal box in a huddle before resuming play, urging each other the buckle down and regroup for the rest of the match.
“Each team will be down a goal at some point,” senior forward Alexa Wilde said. “It’s about how you respond and I think we responded well. We’ve got to finish though.”
Baylor struggled to make any significant scoring chance in the first half, but their second half was much more productive, ending the game with a 10-5 shots edge over the Jayhawks. Also, the Bears spent most of the second half knocking at the door of the Kansas goal area. Countless corner kicks were won by the Bears, but none of the set pieces taken by junior midfielder Bri Campos or senior forward Justine Hovden met any of the Baylor attackers in the right spot to put the ball in the back of the net.
“It’s frustrating when you dominate the second half like we did,” Hovden said. “We just have to be ready for [Iowa State on Sunday].”
The Bears continue their four-game home stand of conference play against Iowa State at 1 p.m. Sunday at Betty Lou Mays Field.