By Will Chamblee | Sports Writer
Producing consistent offensive production has been a struggle for Baylor soccer this season, and it’s easy to understand why. With most of the attack being freshmen or sophomores, Baylor’s offense sputtered at times during the fall, only scoring nine goals in nine games, seventh-best in the Big 12.
But during the times when the Bears were struggling to find goals, in came junior forward Taylor Moon to provide much-needed consistency and veteran leadership for the young Baylor attack.
Known as a defensive team since head coach Paul Jobson took the reins, Baylor’s attack has always taken longer to find its rhythm. This was only magnified this season due to the youth that Baylor had in attacking positions.
“I think if you look back [on] our career here, I think the goals are always late-coming,” Jobson said. “The offense just always comes later because we’re really focused defensively because we feel like that’s gonna keep us in games and keep us competitive. But on top of that, this year, a lot of our youth is in the attack, and it takes a little more cohesion to combine. It’s a little more technical to attack than it is to defend.”
Moon struggled along with the offense in the fall. The forward only scored two goals in nine games and was unable to find many opportunities to score, only placing 12 shots on goal during those nine games.
But things began to click for Moon and the Baylor offense during the spring after an extended break in the winter.
“I’ve been really, really impressed with our offensive unit in training this spring,” Jobson said in a press conference before the spring season. “We’ve looked really good in the attack, and our hope is that it translates really well into the matches.”
Translate it did. After a shaky 0-1 loss to LSU, the Baylor offense exploded for a season-high five goals against Louisiana, winning 5-0. Moon was the main instigator, scoring three goals, exceeding her total from the fall in one game. Moon’s hat-trick was only the 19th in Baylor soccer history.
“It felt awesome,” Moon said on the hat-trick. “Obviously, our team hasn’t been scoring that much, so I’m glad that I got to get those under my belt, but I think the team as a whole did really well at offense that game.”
Moon has taken control of the offense and become a true leader for the young group, which shows on the field. Moon has already totaled 18 shots on goal in only four games this spring and has been the main outlet for the Baylor offense.
But disappointment followed for Moon and Baylor after the Louisiana game against arch-rivals Texas. Moon played well, hitting nine shots towards goal, but she and the rest of the team were unable to convert, and Baylor lost 4-0 and likely ended its chance at getting a spot in the NCAA Tournament. Moon was embarrassed by the performance but ready to move on.
“It was a big letdown,” Moon said. “Those are our biggest rivals, I would say. I just think, as a team, that wasn’t us.”
Sophomore midfielder Maddie Algya and the rest of the team concurred with Moon.
“As Taylor said, we were kinda upset,” Algya said.
But like any good leader, Moon didn’t let herself stay upset but instead put her head down and continued to search for the next goal. In Baylor’s next match against Oklahoma, Moon found it, scoring her sixth goal of the season, a team-high, to help Baylor to an important 2-1 win over the Sooners.
Moon and the rest of the Baylor attack will be back in the fall, and this time, they’ll have a full season under their belt. If Moon can continue the momentum she’s gathered in the spring, Baylor will be a force to be reckoned with in the Big 12 next season.