Baylor ties Oregon in thrilling comeback

Sophomore midfielder Chloe Japic attempts a penalty kick in the final seconds of the second half to send the game against Oregon into overtime. Photo by Brittany Tankersley | Photographer

By Michael Haag | Sports Writer

Baylor soccer (3-2-2) drew a tie against the University of Oregon (3-0-3) with a score of 2-2. The Bears thrillingly tied the game with two seconds left in regulation, as sophomore midfielder Chloe Japic scored on a second-effort shot. Head coach Paul Jobson said they had dug themselves a hole in this game, but is happy with the team for fighting back and forcing a tie.

“I’m proud. It’s not over until that final whistle, and I think we play like that all the time,” Jobson said. “Even down to the penalty kick, that was missed so-to-speak, she followed it up, and that’s what you [have] to do. It’s never say die.”

The first half saw Oregon strike first as junior forward Ally Cook netted a header into the bottom right corner in the eighth minute to give Oregon a 1-0 lead. The goal came off of a cross from Oregon’s fifth-year senior defender Mia Palmer, and is Cook’s fifth goal of the season.

Baylor played aggressively the rest of the first half, as they sent shot after shot toward the goal. The Bears outshot the Ducks 12 to 3 in the first half and had plenty of prime opportunities to score. However, the Bears couldn’t capitalize, as many of their shots sailed just high or wide of the goalposts. Of those 12 shots for Baylor, the Ducks’ sophomore goalkeeper Leah Freeman only recorded one save in the first half.

In the second half, Baylor came out firing again. But after a missed shot on goal from sophomore forward Mackenzie Anthony, the Ducks found themselves open with a one-on-one opportunity. Redshirt senior forward Kess Elmore only had graduate student goalkeeper Jennifer Wandt in her path. Elmore, who just scored the game-winning goal against the University of Texas in their last match, was able to score in the 59th minute in this one, making the score 2-0.

In the 81st minute of the game, Oregon’s junior forward Lexi Romero was hit with a red card for unsportsmanlike behavior, giving the Bears an 11 to 10 player advantage. Less than a minute later, junior forward Elizabeth Kooiman sent a cross into the box where Anthony was waiting, and headed a shot into the bottom left corner, scoring the first goal of the night for Baylor to make it 2-1 as well as her fourth goal of the season.

The Bears kept getting shots on goal for the remainder of regulation, but found themselves still down 2-1. On a last-second scrambling play, Japic was fouled by Cook, who was penalized with a yellow card. The foul occurred in the goalkeeper box, granting Japic with a penalty kick to potentially tie the game. Freeman would block the attempt, however, the ball was not cleared out of play, and Japic followed her shot with another and sent the ball into the top left of the goal as time expired, erupting Betty Lou Mays Field. Japic said she knew what she had to do, as she tied the game and gave her team a chance to win.

“I told myself I was scoring, one way or another, whether the keeper saves it or not,” Japic said. “It was a great save by the keeper by all means, but I was ready for anything. Luckily it bounced out right to my feet again and I was able to put that [shot] away.”

In the golden goal periods, the Bears remained up a player, as the red card penalty from regulation was still enforced. The Bears had several great opportunities, but never found the back of the net. Wandt also made a big-time save in the final minutes of the second golden goal period, as Cook tried to put a shot in the top left corner of the goal. The clock counted down the remaining seconds as the contest finished off in a tie. Jobson said he was happy, even with a tie, as the team had to grind their way back into the game.

“At the end of the day, what I’m proud of about this team is that veteran mentality outset of ‘We just have to keep going,’” Jobson said. “They didn’t get frustrated, they didn’t get down, they just kept fighting and clawed their way back into it.”

Next up for Baylor is another home matchup against Stephen F. Austin State University (2-4-1) at 7 p.m. Thursday at Betty Lou Mays Field. The Bears are 1-1 against the Lumberjacks, with their last matchup being back in 2012.