By Nathan Keil | Sports Writer
Baylor soccer developed an appetite for the dramatic over the weekend, taking advantage of offensive opportunities late in regulation, scoring in the 88th minute of their 1-0 win over Northern Illinois University on Friday and in the 84th minute of a 1-0 win over the University of Illinois at Chicago on Sunday. The Bears improved to 5-1-0 on the season.
In both contests, the Bears relied heavily on their stout defense and ball control to wear down the Huskies and Flames before finally netting their lone goals in the waning minutes of the second half of both contests.
On Friday, the Bears battled the Huskies for 87 minutes before sophomore midfielder Julie James headed in the pass from fellow sophomore forward Lauren Piercy, last week’s Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week, in the 88th minute, giving Baylor a 1-0 edge that would hold up in the end. Baylor’s defense completely smothered the Huskies, completely preventing them from getting off a shot.
Baylor has been quick to adopt the habit of using ball control and aggressive defense to fend off their opponents, and opposing coaches and players are taking notice.
“Baylor is a very good team,” said Huskies head coach John Ross, according to the NIU athletics website. “ They’re physical and aggressive.”
Despite Baylor’s aggressive approach both offensively and defensively, shots and goals did not always come easy. The Bears have developed great patience and trust that is built into their team’s DNA. This trust and comfort has helped to propel them to these late-game victories.
“I give credit to NIU — they had a great game plan,” said head coach Paul Jobson in Baylor’s press release. “I felt like we kept our calm and played through it. We scored a great goal and got away with a great road win.”
On Sunday, the result was the same. Baylor stymied the Flames and held them to a season-low six shots, as junior goalkeeper Sara Martinson stopped all three shots on goal she faced, notching her third shutout of the season. Baylor was aggressive on the offensive end, tallying 20 total shots, six on goal, with Piercy netting the game winner in the 84th minute of regulation.
“We did a better job of taking care of the ball and stayed patient until we were able to score,” Jobson said in Baylor’s press release. “I’m proud of our ability to not get frustrated and keep playing hard until we got the goal.”
This marked Piercy’s fifth goal of the season and her fourth game-winning or “go-ahead” goal of the season.
The Bears look to maintain their aggressive approach as they head to Alabama this weekend for matches against Samford at 7 p.m. Friday and Auburn at 2 p.m. Sunday. The Bears will look for offensive opportunities early on, but if they find themselves locked in a scoreless contest late in the game, they will just feel more at home.