Terry’s late goal not enough, Baylor soccer draws 1-1 in home opener

Baylor soccer midfielder Gabby Mueller advances play to her teammates against Minnesota Thursday, August 17. Assoah Ndomo | Photographer

By AnnaGrace Hale | Sports Writer

After a long night at Betty Lou Mays Field, Baylor soccer began its season with a 1-1 draw against the University of Minnesota. First kick was delayed until 8:47 p.m., almost two hours after the initial start time, due to the weather.

The explosive offense that head coach Michelle Lenard’s team displayed in their two exhibition matches lacked, but as the game progressed, momentum built, leading to dangerous offensive opportunities.

“I think there’s a lot of nerves this game — just the first real game of the season, a lot of new players and just overall a good Minnesota team,” fifth-year senior midfielder Maddie Algya said. “I think we just need to be more confident. I think confidence is key.”

The Bears (0-0-1) started with seven new faces in the lineup against the Golden Gophers (0-0-1). Additionally, after one of the program’s best goalkeepers in Jennifer Wandt graduated last year, the position is up for grabs. Junior keeper Lauren Traywick stepped up to guard the net, making four crucial saves.

Unfortunately for the green and gold, it was not five saves. Within the first six minutes of the second half, Minnesota had a corner opportunity and launched the ball toward the left side of the net from outside the penalty area. Traywick tipped the ball, but it wasn’t enough, as the ball hit underneath the crossbar and fell into the goal.

“I don’t think that goal needs to happen, if we handle that corner-kick situation better,” Lenard said. “We made an error there. And that comes from our back line and our goalkeeper. We need to step up the pressure on that ball and have all the players out of the box.”

Now down 1-0, the error was a wake-up call for Baylor, as the squad began to play with more urgency. More passes were being strung together along the sidelines, and momentum was building in the final third. Junior midfielder Ashley Merrill proved to be dangerous on several occasions up top along with Algya, but neither could find the net.

The Bears made eight substitutions throughout the game, attempting to find an offensive system that clicked.

“Fresh legs helped,” Lenard said. “But I think just finding players who could get on the ball and have some composure and find a simple pass helped us to get into the way we want to play, which I think led to the goal.”

The players who capitalize on building momentum came from the bench. Sophomore forward Haven Terry and freshman forward Skye Leach connected in the final third. Leach split Minnesota’s backline, leading Terry to goal, curving the ball around the Gopher goalkeeper and into the back of the net.

“I mean it was awesome because I kind of had to play underdog, honestly, because I was on the bench,” Terry said. “I got put in for the last 15 minutes, and I feel like I made a change.”

Baylor remained on the attack, looking for a potential winning goal.

As the clock wound down, there were glimpses of greatness. Junior Gabby Mueller created chances in the midfield, faking out defenders while some other good connections came from senior forward Elizabeth Kooiman and junior midfielder Sarah Hornyak, who crashed the box, searching for goals.

Time was not in the Bears’ favor, and despite good chances, due to a new NCAA rule ending regular season games at the end of regulation time, the match ended in a draw.

“We want to be applying the pressure,” Lenard said. “When we did that, we took over the momentum of the game. It just [took] too long for that to happen, and we weren’t able to string together long enough moments. I think that is [the] new system: new team and a lot of young players on the field.”

Baylor finishes out its two-game home-stand against Wisconsin at 7 p.m. at Betty Lou Mays Field. Lenard and the squad will look to use Thursday’s draw as a stepping stone in order to get in the win column.

“Hopefully we can build off of this and have a little more established periods of that type of play in the next game,” Lenard said.