By Michael Haag | Sports Writer
Baylor soccer (8-3-5, 4-1-2) took down Iowa State University (4-10-0, 1-5-0) 2-0 in a match filled with physicality and foul calls.
“We always know Iowa State’s tough like that, they’re gritty,” graduate student midfielder Ally Henderson-Ashkinos said. “That’s just who they are, they play a lot like us in that way, so we know that they are always going to match us in physicality. This is my fifth year playing them, so I definitely know that by now. We know a lot of familiar faces every year, so we know what we’re getting into every year and it’s never easy. Every team in the Big 12 is good, but they’re a team that has always been a tough one for us every year. Physicality, they always match us in that area; they did tonight. Luckily, I think we were really prepared for that and knew what we were getting into and executed the game plan really well.”
The Bears two goals, both came from sophomore forward Mackenzie Anthony. Head coach Paul Jobson said that it was great to get back into the scoring column after having not scored since their loss at Kansas two weeks ago, as it gives the team confidence moving forward.
“It’s great, it’s like hitters in baseball; you get a streak,” Jobson said. “We were on a bad streak, or not scoring, whatever you want to call it. It’s great to be back in that again, and Mack [Anthony] getting two [goals] tonight builds confidence. Some of the other girls got some great looks too; Taylor [Moon] had to work her tail off over there to get any opportunity, they played well on her defensively.”
The first half featured several shot attempts for Baylor, as the Bears out shot the Cyclones 9-3 in the period, while also getting three corner kick opportunities. For Baylor, most of their shot attempts came from distance and were just wide or too high of the posts. The closest chance for a goal in the first half came in the 24th minute of action. Graduate student goalkeeper Jennifer Wandt sent a free kick into the box, where several Bears awaited. The ball took a bounce, and the net opened up for senior forward Taylor Moon, yet she was unable to capitalize on the opportunity, and the ball fell out of play.
Over the course of the first period, Wandt was only required to make one save, which came in the 15th minute. The shot attempt was a routine save as it came straight to Wandt. Both teams were quiet offensively and remained scoreless heading into halftime.
Baylor quickly found success in the second half, as it took them less than two minutes to get on the board. In the 47th minute, Anthony found herself on a breakaway play with two Cyclone defenders on her left hip. Anthony was able to chip a shot in over Iowa State junior goalkeeper Rachel Vander Hart’s head. Anthony said after the game that she noticed Vander Hart was consistently coming off of her line at times. She said that this allowed her to quickly react and strike first for the Bears.
“I saw that she [Vander Hart] kind of played farther up so I saw that she was way off the line,” Anthony said. “I realize [that] in college soccer, the quicker you play the easier it is the score.”
Anthony also said that between her, Moon and junior forward Elizabeth Kooiman, they do a good job of pressuring opposing backlines. She said that it was nice to get goals after their drought, and that one of the biggest strengths for the team is the three of them.
“There was definitely a lot of frustration, so it kind of felt like we finally broke the gates again,” Anthony said. “We [the forwards] definitely did [put pressure on ISU], that is something that I feel like is one of our strengths; is the ability to just push at them and scare them in a way.”
Baylor maintained pace for the rest of the second period, sending shots on goal and creating opportunities. With less than two minutes to go in the game, the Bears found themselves with a chance for another score. In the 89th minute, Henderson-Ashkinos had a free kick opportunity on the left wing of the pitch near the box. Henderson-Ashkinos sent the ball into the box, where Kooiman headed a pass backwards to Anthony. Anthony lasered a shot into the top left of the net for her eighth goal of the season. Her goal extended Baylor’s lead to 2-0 with a little over a minute to go in the contest.
With Henderson-Ashkinos being a midfielder, she said she knows that her position doesn’t always get the glory of scoring goals or recording assists. She said that she and the other midfielders pride themselves on the role they play and love being some of the, “unsung heroes” of a match.
“Our midfield, we hype each other up,” Henderson-Ashkinos said. “We tell each other we have the hardest job on the field and we should feel so proud of that. We get to pour out for our team. We don’t get to score that much, we don’t get to assist that much, we don’t get to make those big plays that get put on NCAA and ESPN, we don’t get that all the time. But that’s okay, we’re totally fine with that and we have the culture of: it takes everybody. It takes us winning a ball in the midfield to get it up to the forwards to score a goal. We pride ourselves on being the unsung heroes, we’re happy about that, we love that.”
Jobson said that it was great to get back in the win column, after two draws and a loss in their last three conference games. He said goals don’t come easy in the Big 12, and that he was proud of the team’s effort.
“Free points don’t come easy in this conference,” Jobson said. “It doesn’t matter who you’re playing on either end of the table, it’s always going to be a tough match, they earned every bit of that tonight. Iowa State did a great job defensively, I thought they had some chances, Jen [Wandt] came up big once or twice. She doesn’t have to do a lot; she stays in the match and makes saves when she has to. Did that tonight, I thought we were very good defensively and I thought Mack [Anthony] scored two fantastic goals tonight.”
Jobson also said that the team has played great all season and deserved the win tonight. He said that the sport can be brutal at times, but the team can hold their heads high after the win at home.
“These girls have been good all season,” Jobson said. “This game can be crushing where it doesn’t always go your way. Tonight it did, and they can walk off with their heads held high with how they performed, they got the result that they deserved tonight.”
The Bears have another home matchup against West Virginia University (9-4-3, 3-2-2), Sunday. The game will kickoff at 1:00 p.m. at Betty Lou Mays Field. The Bears are 2-6-1 in program history against the Mountaineers, dating back to 2012.
Henderson-Ashkinos said that the team is pumped up nearing the end of Big 12 play. She said that they are eager for matchups against opponents they have already faced off against. She also said that they are aiming to secure a high seed for the conference tournament in Round Rock and need to win out in order to do it.
“We need to win out, that’s our goal, we need to win out the rest of our games,” Henderson-Ashkinos said. “We have two more [games] coming up and then we want to be seeded really well in the Big 12 Tournament too, because that’s really important to us. We’re excited, it’s coming up and we get to be in a new place this year so we’re pumped about that. We’re pumped to get to see some of the teams that we already played too and have beaten, and lost to so far. We’re excited for another shot at those teams but, what’s going to set us up really well is to win out and win this next game against West Virginia and then OU next week.”