By DJ Ramirez | Sports Editor
With new threads and a new field, Baylor soccer opened the official season with a 4-2 win over Northwestern State on Sunday afternoon at Betty Lou Mays Field, making it the eighth opening victory for the Bears in the last nine years.
Although the Bears started out aggressive, outshooting the Lady Demons 7-2 in the first half, head coach Paul Jobson felt his team played better in the second half.
“I think we gave a little bit too much,” Jobson said. “Defensively, we weren’t as good as we needed to be today, for sure. The second half was better than the first, but we have some things we need to do better.”
Despite the Bears’ 10 shots on goal, Lady Demons’ goalkeeper Acelya Aydogmus had six saves, holding her own against Baylor’s offense. It would not prove to be enough, however. Baylor outshot NSU 16-6 and held an advantage of 7-1 in corners while keeping a 52% possession total.
Senior forward Camryn Wendlandt put Baylor on the board, scoring the first goal of the game in the 14th minute with an assist by junior midfielder Ally Henderson, and then went on to assist freshman midfielder Michaela Gorman for the Bears’ second goal in the in the 33rd minute. Gorman had subbed in for sophomore midfielder Maddie Algya four minutes earlier and recorded her first goal in a Baylor uniform on the cross from Wendlandt.
The Bend, Ore. native credited the goal to the work of her teammates.
“I really cannot take credit for it. That’s all my team doing the hard work and me being in the right place at the right time,” Gorman said.
Senior forward Raegan Padgett made the difference early in the second half, netting the Bears’ third goal from 19 feet out in the 49th minute. Padgett was due for a goal as she finished the game with a team high seven shots, four of which were on goal.
The final 10 minutes of the game heated up, and not just because of the 99-degree weather. Junior transfer Eva Mitchell drew a penalty kick in the 83rd minute to put Baylor up 4-0. Northwestern finally responded after not making a shot since early in the first half. NSU forward Kiara Padilla, who had subbed in for starting forward Jalen Donaldson, netted the first goal for the Lady Demons from 14 feet out.
NSU forward Olivia Draguicevich cut the Bears’ lead in half with a PK in response to Mitchell’s shot two minutes before.
Despite the result, Wendlandt felt like the team could have played better.
“We have a lot to work on,” Wendlandt said. “If we were where we needed to be first game of the year, it would be a little concerning. It gave us a good look for the rest of the season.”
Baylor will hit the road for the next two weeks, facing Drake at 7 p.m. on Friday at the Cownie Soccer Complex in Des Moines, Iowa. The Bears will return to Betty Lou Mays on Sept. 12 to host Arkansas.