By Will Chamblee | Sports Writer
For the third time in as many weeks, Baylor women’s soccer will face off against another top-10 opponent, this time against No. 7 West Virginia this week.
Last week, the Bears took down No. 5 Kansas 2-0 for their first win of the season and are looking to build on the momentum from their victory against the Jayhawks.
“There was a sense of relief and a lot of excitement, beating a top-five program here at home with a bunch of youngsters,” Baylor head coach Paul Jobson said.
But while the win against Kansas was big for the program, junior forward Taylor Moon said the team has already moved on and is focused on this week’s matchup against the Mountaineers.
“The coaches have narrowed our focus down to this week,” Moon said. “We’re on to what’s next.”
The road doesn’t get easier for Baylor, as it takes on a formidable West Virginia team on the road.
The Bears, as well as the Big 12, have struggled to beat West Virginia at their home field. Baylor is 1-2 at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium, while the rest of the Big 12 is a combined 3-24 all-time in Morgantown.
“You’re definitely the underdog when you walk into Dick Dlesk Park up there under the mountains,” Jobson said.
This year’s West Virginia team is not different from years past. Sitting at 4-1 atop the Big 12 standings, the Mountaineers have been dominant in their offensive performances this year, leading the league with 11 goals scored.
“They’re a traditional West Virginia team,” Jobson said. “They’re good from back to front. Athletic, strong, fast, good soccer players, a traditional powerhouse.”
West Virginia is led by senior midfielder Stefany Ferrer-vanGinkel, who leads the Big 12 with three goals scored this season.
But if any team is capable of defending against West Virginia, it is Baylor. The Bears are led by senior goalkeeper Jennifer Wandt, who leads the Big 12 in shutouts, and junior defender Kayley Ables, who has been selected twice this year as the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week.
“We’ve all been doing a great job of making sure we keep goals out of the net,” freshman defender Chloe Japic said. “We can see, and everyone else watching can see, that we’re all improving every single game.”
The Bears will be bolstered by the return of sophomore forward Elizabeth Kooiman, who was missed the last two games due to an undisclosed injury. Kooiman was one of the leading scorers for Baylor last season, as she found the back of the net four times, including a hat-trick in last season’s game against the Mountaineers, which Baylor won 4-2.
Baylor faces WVU at 6 p.m. today in Morgantown, W.Va., and will be on ESPN+.