By Jeffrey Swindoll
Oklahoma’s Big 12 schools are off to some of the best season starts in program history. Fresh off their lone one-game weekend in the season last week, a rejuvenated Baylor soccer program travels to knock out both Oklahoma teams in one weekend, facing the Sooners today and the Cowgirls on Sunday.
“I think we’re excited to go on the road,” junior defender Katie Daigle said. “We love playing at home, but we also do really well away, and we know that we do. I think the team’s excited to go to Oklahoma and get both Oklahoma teams out in one weekend, so it’s not too much travel, but enough to where we’re away and our full focus can be on those two teams.”
The Bears are 4-13-1 all-time in Big 12 road openers and have never won their first away game under co-head coaches Marci and Paul Jobson. The last time the Bears won their first away game was at Missouri in 2006, and the last time the Bears won a match in Oklahoma was 2000. Baylor soccer is 22-24-11 in the Big 12 since 2008, the year the Jobsons took over head coaching duties.
“I think we just pay a lot of attention to details like recovery and taking care of ourselves,” Marci Jobson said. “They enjoy being around each other. To me, it’s not really a big deal, home or away. We put a lot of stock in doing our very best. Let’s take care of what we can take care of.”
Currently behind the second-place Sooners and tied with Cowgirls in the Big 12 conference standings, the Bears will come against two battle-tested teams that faced tough challenges earlier in the season. Both teams have players that the Bears will have to look out for in their two matches this weekend.
This week, both freshman goalkeeper Kathryn Fahrner and junior defender Laura Rayfield won weekly Big 12 awards for their performance.
Fahrner made her debut in the Big 12 with back-to-back shutouts, winning the Big 12 Goalkeeper of the Week award. Fahrner helped her team achieve its first 2-0 start in the Big 12 since 2005. Her four shutouts this season are already the most in a season for OU since 2010.
Junior defender Laura Rayfield won Big 12 Defender of the Week after scoring her first goal of the year on a free kick against Iowa State on Sunday. Rayfield’s free kick goal, the game-winner against Iowa State, extended the Sooners’ winning streak to three matches. Rayfield is tied for fourth in the Big 12 for assists.
Just five regular season games remain for the Bears and the Cowgirls. Sunday afternoon’s contest will be pivotal to both of their Big 12 campaigns this season. On top of that, Baylor and OSU are tied in the conference standings right now. Sunday will be a battle to see who climbs the Big 12 ladder and who gets knocked down a notch.
Junior midfielder Bri Campos leads the Bears with six goals this season, followed by sophomore midfielder Ashley York and senior forward Justine Hovden tied for second with four goals in 2014. Hovden leads the team with four assists, and the only player on the team among the top two stats leaders in goals and assists in 2014.
“Bri is a big defensive presence for our team as well,” Baylor co-head coach Marci Jobson said. “She has to defend a lot so it’s nice when she can get some goals as a reward. And Justine, I think, has had a really good senior year. She just needs to keep doing what she’s doing.”
Baylor and Oklahoma will start at 7 p.m. today in Norman, Okla., and the Bears and Cowboys will face off at 1 p.m. on Saturday in Stillwater, Okla.