Meet the ‘No-Goal Patrol’: Baylor soccer’s athletic backline

Sophomore defender Ava Colberg pushes down the right side of the pitch versus the University of Iowa on Sept. 4, 2022 at Betty Lou Mays Field. Olivia Havre | Photographer

By AnnaGrace Hale | Sports Writer

Seen blocking shots, tracking down balls and protecting the Bears’ goalposts, Baylor soccer’s backline is called the “No-Goal Patrol.” This name is a Baylor legacy that has carried on throughout many classes and this season, freshmen defenders Hallie Augustyn and Hannah Augustyn, sophomore defender Ava Colberg along with graduate student defender Kayley Ables have stepped up to hold this title.

Ables said the No-Goal Patrol was established before her freshman year, and even under the new coaching style of head coach Michelle Lenard, the mission is the same:

Don’t let the other team score.

“Something that we don’t want to lose in this new style of coaching is creating defense, doing whatever it takes, over my dead body defending,” Ables said.

Olivia Havre | Photographer
Graduate student defender Kayley Ables blasts a pass toward the middle of the field against the University of Iowa on Sept. 4, 2022 at Betty Lou Mays Field. Olivia Havre | Photographer

Lenard has been pushing explosive offensive attacking, but that vision does not discount the defense’s role. With possession, dangerous plays can start with the players in the back. Ables said the job of the defense is to set up the offense for success.

“[We are] putting our players in a good position to receive balls, making sure that we’re not giving up hospital balls and just trying to give [the attackers] the best chances they can get to take people on,” Ables said.

This backline may be aiding the forwards, but oftentimes they have a chance to capitalize on some shots of their own.

Ables found the net in the Bears’ 3-1 exhibition victory against Louisiana State University on Aug. 11 and had two shots on goal in the most recent match, a loss to the University of San Francisco. Hannah found a goal during the San Francisco game and fellow twin sister Hallie put one in the back of the net in the team’s 3-0 win over the University of Houston.

With this increase in intensity, Colberg said the team’s strategy has pushed her to grow as a player.

“I’ve been challenged a lot to make those overlapping runs and attack… and improving my skills,” Colberg said.

Olivia Havre | Photographer
Sophomore defender Ava Colberg executes the throw-in toward a teammate against the University of Iowa on Sept. 4, 2022 at Betty Lou Mays Field. Olivia Havre | Photographer

Each Bear on the backline is being challenged by not only the style of play but the difficulty of this season’s schedule. Baylor went up against No. 2 University of North Carolina when the Tar Heels were first in the nation. Additionally, the green and gold have been challenged by different teams with a range of playing styles, such as Houston and the University of Florida, a team Baylor knocked off 2-1 on Aug. 25.

This year’s No-Goal Patrol has let a few balls past them, but each game is a learning experience and a chance to grow together.

“Right now we’re just working on playing together as a unit and how can we turn that athleticism into more technical thinking, rather than just reacting on athleticism,” Ables said. “That goes for our entire backline thinking about how we can mentally do well, as well as just being athletic.”

After the two shutouts against UH and the University of Iowa, Lenard said she is seeing improvement in the backline.

“We are doing better defensively because we are keeping the ball more,” Lenard said. “Now, can we build on that and can we put the ball in the back of the net? We are going to continue to play opponents that can create dangerous counter-attack opportunities, so we have to be sharp in the moments that we turn the ball over.”

Baylor has one more game before Big 12 play begins, and the No-Goal Patrol will look to make an impact. The squad will face Southern Methodist University at 7 p.m. Sunday at the Washburn Soccer and Track Stadium in Dallas.

Olivia Havre | Photographer
Freshman defender Hallie Augustyn passes the ball toward a teammate on goal versus the University of Iowa on Sept. 4, 2022 at Betty Lou Mays Field. Olivia Havre | Photographer

The Bears will return to Waco for their first conference match against the University of Oklahoma, scheduled for Sept. 23 at 7 p.m. at Betty Lou Mays Field.

“All of us are very hard workers,” Ables said. “Once we get to actually place the pieces together, we have all the makings to play really well. We have that very strong foundation.”