Baylor soccer finishes homestand winless, falls to Wisconsin 2-0

Sophomore forward Haven Terry strikes the ball in Sunday’s 0-2 loss to Wisconsin. Photo courtesy of Baylor Athletics.

By AnnaGrace Hale | Sports Writer

Kicking off earlier than expected at Betty Lou Mays Field due to incoming weather, Baylor soccer fell to the University of Wisconsin 2-0 Sunday evening at Betty Lou Mays Field. After their 1-1 draw on Thursday against the University of Minnesota, the Bears came out with more aggression, but couldn’t manage to get the ball past the Badgers’ goalkeeper.

“We expected some growing pains and today was an example of some growing pains,” head coach Michelle Lenard said. “Really, we had some good moments in that game in the first half that, had they turned into a goal, you never know, maybe the game goes a different direction. Also credit to their goalkeeper, she made two consecutive saves in the first half and then two, maybe three, consecutive saves down on this end to keep the lead there. Those are game changing moments. We did not make those sort of game changing plays, and they did.”

Wisconsin’s keeper made seven saves throughout the game and was tested in the first half from close range. She made two consecutive saves, blocking both strikes from Bears junior midfielder Ashley Merrill.

Other than Merrill’s strikes in the first half, Baylor (0-1-1) attempted to find the net from farther out due to their lack of success when trying to slide behind the Badgers’ (1-0-1) backline.

“It’s painful, but what I told the team is we’re in a learning curve right now,” Lenard said. “We’re trying players in different things. We’ve played different goalkeepers two games in a row. We’ve played a couple [of] different players. We’ve really got to see [what] we’ve got going into the next couple of weeks so that we’ll be ready for Big 12 play.”

Junior goalkeeper Madison Martin, a Texas Tech transfer, replaced junior keeper Lauren Traywick who started against Minnesota. Baylor is still testing their options between the goalposts in hopes of finding their routine starter.

Martin was the only player beside freshman defender Hallie Augustyn to play all 90 minutes. Fifth-year senior defender Kayley Ables stepped out at the end of the first half due to sickness, allowing for younger players to claim some minutes.

The 63rd minute proved to be momentous, as Wisconsin took advantage of Baylor’s 3-4-3 formation. The Badgers crossed the ball to sophomore midfielder Adee Boer, who tapped it into the back of the net. Thirty-five seconds later, Martin slid into a Wisconsin forward at the top of the penalty area, resulting in a penalty kick. The Badgers capitalized and went up 2-0 in the 64th minute.

“We’re making some poor decisions in some critical moments and turning the ball over in the middle of the field and then they get a goal,” Lenard said. “I think in that moment, we responded with a little bit of immaturity. We need to respond with a little bit more confidence, a little bit more urgency.”

Forwards graduate student Taylor Moon and junior Mackenzie Anthony were out due to injury, which caused Lenard to find “a temporary solution to fill the shoes of those players.”

With the new players, Lenard focused on pressing players into the box to score. This strategy came together in the 87th minute of the game, as the green and gold had three consecutive shots on goal, but all were blocked by the Badger keeper.

Despite the costly mistakes, Lenard said she knows this aggressive mindset comes with a risk of holes in the defense, but she said learning from mistakes is how a team grows.

“Right now, we’re trying to find our identity to create and score,” Lenard said. “And we’re willing to take the L[oss] early in the season to help us learn.”

Up next, Baylor will head south to face the University of Florida at 4 p.m. Thursday at the Mike A. Myers Stadium and Soccer Field in Austin. The Bears will stick around for a match against the University of North Carolina, scheduled for 12 p.m. on Sunday.