By Michael Haag | Sports Writer
Baylor soccer (6-2-3, 2-0-0) has not recorded a loss since Aug. 26, ending its last eight games in either a win or draw. The Bears have used this momentum to carry them into conference play, as they have jumped out to an early 2-0 record, beating top preseason picks Texas Christian University and Oklahoma State University on the road.
Sophomore forward Mackenzie Anthony said that the team’s mindset for conference play has been to remain focused, especially on the road, where it can be hardest to execute.
“[We’re] just staying focused,” Anthony said. “Especially being on the road, sometimes it’s easy to lose focus.”
Head coach Paul Jobson prepared his team to battle against tougher competition, saying that they knew what they had to do in order to execute.
“I think that we’re in a really good place right now,” Jobson said. “Our goals right now are just to get out and execute at a higher level because everything escalates when you hit conference play. So, our goals are just making sure that we can do that [at] a higher level against great opponents.”
Jobson also used non-conference play to help tighten his rotation for conference games.
“We’ve gotten to about where we need to be,” Jobson said. “As we got through our non-conference play, we solidified pretty much where our rotation is based on injuries, people coming back, things like that.”
One of the players returning from injury is senior forward Taylor Moon. Jobson said getting Moon back was a huge boost for the team, and to pair her up with Anthony and junior forward Elizabeth Kooiman is “big time.”
“It obviously makes us a little more multi-dimensional having [Moon] and Mack Anthony, who’s scoring a bunch of goals right now, and Liz [Kooiman],” Jobson said. “[Moon’s] a big piece of what we do, so it’s great having her back.”
Anthony agreed with Jobson, saying how nice it was to be able to get Moon back in the lineup and on the pitch. The trio of her, Moon and Kooiman is something Anthony was eager to have back.
“It’s nice having Taylor Moon back in. So we have Liz [Kooiman] and Taylor both sending in crosses from both sides,” Anthony said. “They like to isolate and take on the defenders, and they’re doing really well getting it across the field.”
Anthony, who has tripled her goal count already from last season, thinks that her confidence of having a year under her belt is the biggest factor in scoring so many goals for the team.
“I think I’ve scored six [goals]. I scored two last year,” Anthony said. “I definitely think me having more confidence could be a big reason, being a freshman last year.”
Another point of emphasis for Jobson has been their back line. Jobson said that he likes to keep his back line consistent and has faith in the depth in those positions. Their approach has been a little different this season, but Jobson believes it will work out.
“I don’t usually like to have that many people in the back,” Jobson said. “We like to be pretty consistent, but there are advantages to training depth early in the season. We’ve got a lot of people we can rely on at this point. So, not exactly how we like to do it, but the byproduct of it is going to be really good.”
The Bears have found recent success and are excited to keep it moving. Up next, they face off against Texas Tech University (9-1-1, 2-0-0). They will kickoff at 7 p.m. Thursday at Betty Lou Mays Soccer Field. Overall, Baylor is 17-7-4 all-time against Texas Tech, with their last matchup ending 0-0 in double overtime.