Ahfaaz Merchant | Sports Writer
Baylor soccer will begin conference play this week, matching up against both Kansas State and No. 17 Kansas. The Bears will first face the Wildcats today before playing the Jayhawks on Sunday afternoon.
Wichita, Kan. junior midfielder Ally Henderson said she is excited for the upcoming matchup and having her family and friends at the match.
“It’s a trip that I look forward to every time. The last time I got to do it was my freshman year. It’s really awesome for me,” Henderson said. “All my family gets to come. I was just looking at my pass list today. With all my friends and family up there, it’s in the 30s. I have a lot of fans coming for me, and it’s always really a fun trip. I’m looking forward to it.”
Kansas State is coming off a 5-0 loss against No. 7 Brigham Young University this past weekend. The Wildcats allowed four goals to be scored in the second half but senior goalkeeper Emma Malsy still recorded eight saves against the Cougars.
Henderson said she believes K-State’s program is growing.
“I think they’re really growing, and I have a lot of friends on K-State’s team,” Henderson said. “It’s really cool to see their program growing and getting better and competing. They’re going to be a really great team for us, hardworking, blue collar players just like us.”
After the Bears finish their battle with the Wildcats they will head to Lawrence, Kan. to take on No. 17 Kansas
The Jayhawks are 8-2 on the season with no draws. They will begin Big 12 play with a match against the Texas Longhorns before taking on the Baylor.
Head coach Paul Jobson said the Jayhawks and the Wildcats will each bring different challenges.
“You got one team that has a bad record, but they’re fighters and battlers. They’re looking to be the upset queens of the conference right now, and you can never count them out,” Jobson said. “On the other side, you got Kansas who is a perennial power and in the top 10 in the country right now […] So they’ve got a little bit different mentality. We’re going to face two different types of mentality this weekend. But it will be a great first test for us heading into conference play.”
Baylor comes off a successful weekend with a double overtime draw over the No. 2 USC Trojans and a 2-1 victory in overtime over the Gonzaga Bulldogs.
Jobson said both wins were important for the Bears as they open up conference play.
“We couldn’t be coming off a better weekend. We tied the No. 2 team in the country and had two great results against two great teams heading into conference play,” Jobson said. “So I think we made some great progress from our exhibitions where we were kind of wondering what was our identity going to be, what was it going to look like to really identifying what that is and realizing now it just needs to become consistent.”
Baylor will play Kansas State at 7 p.m. today at Buser Family Park, and then travel to face the Jayhawks at 1 p.m. Sunday at Rock Chalk Park. Both matches will be broadcast on ESPN+.