By Jeffrey Swindoll
It looked like a critical stretch of matches for Baylor soccer last weekend, and the Bears came out of empty-handed. The Bears lost to the two teams (Texas Tech and Texas) neck-and-neck with them in the conference standings. They fell 1-0 in Lubbock to the Red Raiders, and dropped 2-1 to the Longhorns in the 2014 season home finale.
Baylor fell to seventh in the Big 12 standings, just one point ahead of TCU and the already disqualified Iowa State. The final match of the season on Friday will determine whether Baylor plays West Virginia or Kansas, both of whom have been ranked this season, in the first round of the conference tournament.
The Bears’ weekend started in Lubbock against a familiar Texas Tech team, proclaimed as a “big rivalry game” by senior forward Alexa Wilde before the match.
As feisty as the rivalry is, the Bears had no bite against the Red Raiders on Friday. Baylor got off only six shots compared to Texas Tech’s 16 shots in the entire 90 minutes of regulation. The second half was a drastic difference from the first. The Bears came out flat, only managing to crack one shot at the Texas Tech goal. Eventually the dam broke, and the Red Raiders earned the go-ahead in the 71st minute.
“When you’re on the road and playing a top team, ranked team, in your conference, it’s going to be a tough match,” Baylor co-head coach Paul Jobson said.
For five Baylor seniors, Sunday night was the last time playing at Betty Lou Mays Field for Baylor soccer. A sour taste was left in the Bears’ mouths after the Longhorns equalized with a header in the 75th minute and the game-winner in the 90th minute.
The Bears took an early lead on a set piece lofted into the box by junior defender Katie Daigle. It was senior forward Alexa Wilde who knocked it home for Baylor soccer in her last game at Betty Lou Mays Field in the sixth minute.
The Longhorns let their guard down early during the first half mayhem in the goal-box, but the Bears were the ones to feel robbed in the end. In the 75th minute, Texas headed in a set piece goal very reminiscent of the free kick goal scored by the Bears in the first half. The match went down to the wire.
Both teams pressed deep into each other’s half, rolling the dice a bit, all for the massive payoff of scoring a goal late in the game. The Bears urged each other to continue trying for a goal, but Texas dug deep and got the go-ahead goal with just 32 seconds left to play. That sealed the deal for the Longhorns.
With one more game against the conference-leading West Virginia on Friday and the Big 12 Tournament coming next week, the Bears are still alive in the Big 12 hunt.
“The beautiful thing is that we’ve still got a game left and we’re still in the Big 12 tournament,” Wilde said. “So, we could either let this define our season, or we could make a comeback and turn it around from here.”