Baylor falls behind early; can’t recover at West Virginia

Freshman defender Halee Sowinski clears the ball from Jackson State players on Sept. 18 at Betty Lou Mays Soccer Field. The Bears won 7-0. Photo Credit: Jessica Hubble

The Baylor soccer team dropped a tough match 2-0 over the weekend at No. 3 ranked West Virginia in the Mountaineers’ conference opener.

Baylor’s defense has been aggressive and has helped provide scoring opportunities for the offense this season. However, the script was flipped on the Bears Friday night as they fell behind early and were forced to play catchup for the remainder of the match.

The Mountaineers got on the board early as junior forward Michaela Abam snuck a header past junior goalkeeper Sarah Martinson not quite four minutes into the game, putting the Bears at a great disadvantage.

“Every game is about momentum,” said West Virginia head coach Nikki Izzo-Brown on West Virginia’s official athletic website. “I think that early goal really took a lot out of Baylor’s sails.”

Baylor head coach Paul Jobson knows how difficult it is to keep composure as a team and battle back after falling behind right away.

“Our first half, we didn’t play as well out of the gun as I would’ve liked to have. We did make some adjustments. It’s tough to be down 1-0 early,” Jobson said.

The Bears have made a living this season creating opportunities and dominating their opponents in total number of shots. Friday, however, belonged to the Mountaineers. Baylor became the second team this season to not be able to manage a shot on goal against the Mountaineers freshman goalkeeper Rylee Foster. This was also the Mountaineers’ fifth shutout of the season.

“Credit to West Virginia,” Jobson said. “They are a great team, definitely deserving of their national ranking.”

The Bears were able to muster up a couple of chances to get on the board, but both were to no avail. Sophomore midfielder Sarah King had a chance in the 26th minute, but her shot sailed off to the right and out of play. Baylor’s leading scorer, sophomore forward Lauren Piercy, who was held to just one shot attempt, had a one-on-one opportunity in the 49th minute, but her shot missed high over the goal.

The Mountaineers were able to add some insurance late in the first half to keep the Baylor offense at bay. Sophomore forward Sh’Nia Gordon added her third goal of the season in the 31st minute to give West Virginia a 2-0 lead.

West Virginia outshot Baylor 20 to 4 and improved to 4-0-1 against Baylor since joining the Big 12.

Despite statistically dominating Baylor, the Mountaineers and Izzo-Brown acknowledged how talented the Bears are and how important it was to get that first conference win.

“I told the team that they beat a great Baylor team. Baylor plays a certain way, and they really believe in what they do, and they do it the best I’ve ever seen from a team,” Izzo-Brown said on West Virginia’s official athletic website. “We wanted these points to come back out on this field and get that victory.”

Jobson knew West Virginia was going to be a daunting task, but he remains proud of the Bears’ effort and confident in their ability to bounce back and earn a victory their next time out on the field.

“Would’ve been nice to put one away, but that’s the way it goes,” Jobson said. “I’m proud of this team and the effort they continually give.”

Baylor continues their four-game road stretch with a match against Oklahoma on Friday in Norman, Okla. The match is set to begin at 7 p.m.