By Jeffrey Swindoll
Baylor soccer opened its 2014 Big 12 conference account with a 1-0 loss to No. 18 Kansas Friday night and a 2-0 win against Iowa State on Sunday.
The Bears fought hard all weekend, leaving everything on the field, Baylor co-head coach Paul Jobson said, but only were rewarded with one win in the two-game home stand at Betty Lou Mays Field.
The Bears faced one of the toughest threats to their defense Friday night. Kansas forward Liana Salazar came into the match just one goal shy of the conference lead for goals scored this season. She ended up tying that mark Friday night.
Salazar had the lone goal in the game, early into the first half. A low cross was swung into the box, beating two Baylor defenders and Salazar 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,” Jobson said. “We couldn’t have asked for more.”
Salazar 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 Baylor.
KU’s goal was the first goal the Bears conceded at home during 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.
The Bears won countless corner kicks, 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].”
ISU entered Sunday’s game against Baylor tied in the conference standings. Both teams lost their Big 12 openers on Friday and were desperate to find their first win on Sunday with few conference games left in the season.
Hovden opened the scoring in the 10th minute. Wilde redirected the ball with a header into the goal box off a throw-in set play. The ball fell to the feet of Hovden just 12 yards away from the goal. Hovden made no mistake about it and absolutely blasted the balled into the back of the net.
“Justine killed it [Sunday],” junior forward Sarah Moghadas said. “It was so fun to watch her. She ‘megged’ like 10 people.”
The Bears have dominated each of their home games when scoring first. Sunday’s match followed the same trend. Baylor allowed only one shot in the first half and three in the entire match. Kloss was called upon to make only one save in the full 90 minutes.
Baylor’s second goal also came on a throw in play. The ball was thrown deep into the box, it got knocked around a bit and junior midfielder Bri Campos knocked it in after the chaotic scramble in the 67th minute. Campos now leads the team with 5 goals on the season.
Only two regular season home games remain for the Bears. Junior midfielder Ashley York said the team is focused on avoiding the highs being too high and lows being too low. The loss against Kansas was a clear disappointment to the team after exerting so much effort and coming so close to scoring in that match, but the team responded with a win.
The Bears picked up where they left off. The Iowa State match had no drop off in team unity or offensive production that was present in the Kansas match.
“This was a carry-over game from Friday night,” Baylor co-head coach Paul Jobson said. “They believed in each other and got the result they deserved [Sunday]. [The Iowa State match] might have been our most complete performance of the season. We’ve been looking for [that] type of effort the past few Sunday’s and it’s great to see.”
Baylor takes on TCU at home at 7 p.m. on Friday.