By Will Chamblee | Sports Writer
The Big 12 gauntlet does not let up for Baylor women’s soccer, as the Bears face off against another top-ranked opponent in no. 5 Kansas.
Despite only having scored a league-low one goal so far in the season, Baylor head coach Paul Jobson is confident that his young team will make a breakthrough soon on offense.
“Our youth is showing more upfront than our youth is showing in the back,” Jobson said. “It’s a matter of time. You can look through game one to game three, each time we’re getting more and more opportunities. If we’re trending in that direction, I feel really good about where we are.”
Kansas has exceeded expectations this season. Originally picked to finish sixth in the Preseason Big 12 poll, the Jayhawks have gone 3-0 and sit atop the standings. Preseason All-Big 12 selectee and midfielder Ceri Holland leads the way for Kansas on offense. She has earned one Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week selection so far this season. Kansas played well offensively during their lone matchup against Baylor last season, winning 3-1 in Lawrence, Kan.
Defense, however, has been the driving force behind the Jayhawks’ success this season. Kansas is yet to allow a goal and goalkeeper Sarah Peters leads the Big 12 in shutouts along with Baylor senior goalkeeper Jennifer Wandt.
“They’re definitely a tough opponent,” sophomore defender Tara Sumer said. “We know we need to lockdown offensively and defensively this week. It’s going to be a tough one just like the rest of the games in the Big 12 but nothing that we can’t handle.”
Baylor’s schedule thus far has been difficult. Two of the four teams, TCU and Oklahoma State, are ranked nationally. The Bears have stepped up to the challenge, however and Jobson said he was impressed by his team’s growth amidst the tough schedule.
“In that first match against TCU, which was a really good team, we just kinda survived,” Jobson said. “Then you see the growth of the team over the next couple of weeks to where they’re playing against the number four team in the country and going toe to toe, and at times had the better of the play and could have come out victorious. They can really compete with anyone in the country.”
Baylor enters into the Kansas game without a win, having gone 0-1-3 on the season. Senior midfielder Ally Henderson said that the team isn’t worrying about that but choosing to focus on the little things instead.
“We don’t want to grasp it too tightly,” Henderson said. “We don’t want to think so hard about the fact that we need to score goals, and we need to win, that we let things slip through the cracks. While we want to be winning and scoring goals, a big focus for us right now is just doing the little things right.”
The Bears will take on the Jayhawks at 7 p.m. on Friday at Betty Lou Mays Soccer Field in Waco. The game will be televised on ESPN+.