Soccer faces first road test of the season

Sophomore midfielder Ally Henderson keeps the ball away from a Duke defender in last year’s NCAA Tournament. The Bears embark on a three-game road trip starting Friday in Boca Raton, Fla.

By Adam Gibson | Sports Writer

No. 15-ranked Baylor soccer is headed on the first road trip of the season this weekend after a hot start of outscoring their first two opponents by a total of 8-1. On the trip, the Bears (2-0) will face South Florida at 6 p.m. Friday in Tampa, Fla. before taking on Florida Atlantic at 5 p.m. Sunday in Boca Raton, Fla.

In their most recent match, the Bears took complete control over Samford, scoring two goals in the first five minutes and six goals total throughout the night. Head coach Paul Jobson did not expect to have that outcome, especially against a team as good as Samford.

“If you told me we were going to be up 2-0 in the first five minutes, I’d tell you you’re crazy,” Jobson said. “You could tell they battled all the way through that. I think it was a good prep for us moving forward. We’re ready for the next level of games and they don’t get any easier from here.”

One topic that keeps coming up among the team is remaining focused, especially on the road. South Florida is coming off of a loss to Auburn on the road, where the Bulls led 20-13 in shots taken. Unlike USF and Baylor, Florida Atlantic has yet to get a win on the season with its most recent loss to No. 7 Florida, 2-4 on the road.

Jobson said this weekend would be a challenge, but as long as they have that focus going in, the result will go in the team’s favor.

“South Florida is a top-25 team. They’re very well coached,” Jobson said. “They’ve got a couple of really talented kids that we’re really going to have to key in on in a tough place to play. Florida Atlantic is another really good team … I think if we can come out sharp and quick, we’ve got a great opportunity for both games, but being on the road is tough.”

Sophomore midfielder Ally Henderson was with the team last year when they made a deep run into the post season with the help of seniors who graduated. Now without those seniors, many of whom were on the back line, Henderson said that line has made significant progress through camp and the first couple of games.

“Our seniors who graduated were pretty much our back line so we had to start fresh this year and it was rough at the beginning,” Henderson said. “For any team trying to rebuild a whole position like that is a big deal. I think we definitely made a lot of strides.”

The back line has proved its talent so far this season, allowing just one goal to slip by it through two games. Playing goalie for the Bears and behind the back line is redshirt junior Hannah Parrish who was injured last season and is back in the net to start out this season. Parrish has experience with road trips and said an important factor is playing as well as they have the past two games at home.

“I mean the biggest thing is you’re not at home,” Parrish said. “You’re not in your comfort zone so it’s just being able to rise above those adverse circumstances and being able to still play and perform to the best of your ability, regardless of whatever is thrown at you.”

With so many freshmen on the team, Jobson said that road trips provide great experience for younger players, as well as the whole team, to get to know each other through tough matchups like the ones they are about to face.

“It can be a big team bonding type moment, win or lose,” Jobson said. “There is some great team bonding type moments in a weekend like this.”