Timely goals, a consistent defense and strong team chemistry have helped guide the Baylor soccer team to a 11-4-1 mark on the season. This consistent play week in and week out earned it a spot at No. 24 on the National Soccer Coaches Association of America’s Top 25 heading into the final weekend of the regular season.
This national recognition does require an additional level of focus in order to keep it from becoming a distraction for the team, and that is something that head coach Paul Jobson and his staff try to instill within his players.
“We talk a lot about insiders and outsiders. Our small core family of insiders is our team, and our staff and everybody else are outsiders,” Jobson said. “We have to teach them who to talk to and who to listen to. We need to know how to handle it, so those are things that we talk about on a regular basis. It can be taken away a lot faster than it took us to get there so we have to focus on what got us there.”
As the regular season comes to a close and the conference tournament is looming just two weeks away, sophomore midfielder Sarah King continues to keep her focus on the task of this upcoming weekend.
“As a team, we try not to look too far into the rankings,” King said. “We just try to focus on getting better each week but as we get closer to the Big 12 tournament and the NCAA tournament, we do hope to get some big wins this weekend.”
Up first for Baylor is the Iowa State Cyclones on Friday. The Cyclones are coming off a 1-0 loss in overtime to Drake University on Tuesday night and enter the match 8-6-1 overall and 2-3-1 in the Big 12. The Cyclones are led by freshman midfielder Hannah Cade who has had three goals while sophomore forward Kasey Medelberg, senior forward Koree Willer and freshman forward Tegan Alexander have each scored twice on the season.
“Tony [Minatta] has done a great job with that program. As far as we’re concerned, Iowa State has always been a team that is competitive and tough. They always seemed to be unlucky at times,” Jobson said. “They’re a tough, tough team. They always have been. This year, they’ve kind of gotten over that hump a little bit to where they’re having some success and getting some good results on the road.”
The Cyclones might welcome the change in scenery after losing three of their more recent five home matches. They have actually faired better away from home, posting a 4-2 road record.
Even though the Cyclones lost to Drake in their most recent match, they outshot the Bulldogs 23-8 so the Bears’ defense will be on high alert. One of the those Bears that will be expected to step up and be that defensive leader is senior defender Lindsay Burns.
“Lindsay is our rock. She is really an anchor back there, definitely a presence for our defense,” King said. “She is a great leader on the field and off the field. She’s a very important part of the team. She just gets the job done and she’s so consistent.”
The Bears hope that the Betty Lou Mays Soccer Field will continue to provide the extra advantage they needs, as they are 5-0-1 in home games this season. Baylor will look to extend its three-game winning streak this weekend with wins over Iowa State on Friday and the Kansas Jayhawks on Sunday and keep momentum going into the Big 12 tournament.
“If you’re looking for a time for momentum, right now is a good time to have it. We’re obviously really proud of the team and the way they’ve performed the last three games for sure,” Jobson said. “It’s about what we’re doing today to get ready for our next match and that is Iowa State over the weekend. One of the reasons I think we have had success is because we are taking it one day at a time and one match a time. There’s no reason to change that, if it’s working, let’s stay with that and see how far it can get us.”
The match against Iowa State will begin at 7 p.m. on Friday, and the final match of the regular season against Kansas will start at 1 p.m. on Sunday.