Soccer sinks Virginia, advances to Elite Eight for second straight year

Story by Ben Everett | Sports Editor, Video by Savannah Cooper | Broadcast Reporter

No. 2-seeded Baylor soccer defeated No. 3-seeded Virginia 2-1 on Sunday night at Betty Lou Mays Soccer Field.

A year ago, the Bears advanced to the Elite Eight for the first time in program history. On Sunday, Baylor clinched a spot in the Elite Eight for the second consecutive season. Head coach Paul Jobson said the Bears have come a long way since he’s been a part of the program.

“It hasn’t really [sunk in],” Jobson said. “It’s pretty incredible where we started here 11 years ago, how far this program has come and the support we’ve gotten from Baylor University, and this community has been something really special.”

The Bears got a game-winning header from senior forward Kennedy Brown in the 53rd minute to secure the win. Baylor did not lose a single home game this season, going 13-0. Brown said getting the game-winner and finishing out her final season with an undefeated home record is something she will remember for a long time.

“There’s nothing more I could ask for,” Brown said. “It’s so special. I’ll definitely hold that in my heart forever.”

The Bears got a corner kick opportunity in the third minute when junior forward Camryn Wendlandt got her head on the ball, but Virginia sophomore keeper Laurel Ivory recorded her first save of the game to keep Baylor off the board.

Just over two minutes later, Baylor found itself in a corner kick situation once again. This time, senior midfielder Julie James headed home her 10th goal of the season to put the Bears up 1-0 in the fifth minute.

In the 16th minute, Virginia junior forward Meghan McCool received a pass in front of the goal and faked out a Baylor defender before firing a shot past sophomore keeper Jennifer Wandt to put the Cavaliers on the board and tie the game at 1-1.

In the 28th minute, the Bears got two clean looks in front of the goal. James and Wendlandt each recorded shots on goal, but Ivory notched her third and fourth saves to keep the score knotted at one.

Following the early scores by both teams, Baylor and Virginia struggled to find the offense in the late stages of the first half as the score remained 1-1 at halftime. At the break, the Bears led in shots with six, compared to the Cavaliers’ three.

In the opening minute of the second half, Virginia sophomore midfielder Sydney Zandi took a corner kick and crossed it to sophomore midfielder Lizzy Sieracki who jumped up for the header. Wandt was there for the save and the Cavaliers came away without a goal.

After stealing the ball away from Virginia offense, Wendlandt pushed the ball downfield, looking for a scoring opportunity. She passed it wide to junior forward Raegan Padgett, who took a few dribbles and launched a cross to the front of the goal. Brown headed in the goal to put the Bears on top 2-1 in the 53rd minute.

Virginia freshman forward Alexa Spaanstra chipped a shot over the Baylor defense in the 70th minute, but the shot sailed just above the goal. McCool got an open look and zipped a shot to the right side of the goal, but Wandt batted it away.

With two minutes remaining, Baylor was called for a foul just outside the penalty box. Virginia senior defender Brianna Westrup took the kick, but couldn’t get it past Baylor’s defense. In the final seconds, sophomore defender Sarah Norman headed the ball away from the Baylor goal to seal the win for the Bears.

Virginia controlled the pace of the second half, out-shooting the Bears 8-2, despite not converting on any of those attempts. Wandt said the Baylor defense stepped up to secure the win.

“I think our defense was spot on,” Wandt said. “One person would get beat and another person would just step in. It was great.”

Baylor will face No. 1-seeded Georgetown at 11 a.m. Saturday in Washington, D.C.