By AnnaGrace Hale | Sports Writer
Baylor soccer returns to Betty Lou Mays field to take on the University of Kansas and Kansas State University on Thursday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at noon, respectively. Although head coach Michelle Lenard’s team lost to the University of Texas on Friday 1-0, the game was closely contested and a sense of momentum was built ahead of the two-game homestand.
“After the Texas game, I said we are trending in the right direction,” Lenard said. “We’ve improved in all the areas we’ve asked the team to improve in. We created more chances on goal, better chances on goal…We had more possession than we did last year. More shots.”
In the midst of a four-game losing streak, the Bears (2-6-2, 0-2-0 Big 12) have struggled to find the back of the net. Baylor has not scored in its last 346 minutes of play. There seems to be a missing piece that the team is searching to find in these next few matchups.
“Obviously we are still trying to solve the same issue week to week,” Lenard said. “Can we put the ball in the back of the net? It may not look like it in terms of our record, but we feel we are right where we want to be at this point in the season in terms of how we’re playing. Now can that translate into wins?”
Junior goalkeeper Lauren Traywick was on the pitch for the green and gold in its match against Texas. The Round Rock native said after the game in Austin, the team is focusing on creating dangerous offense and shots on goal.
“We showed up [against UT] on defense, and we showed up on offense,” Traywick said. “Our offense is starting to gain momentum. Because of the positivity and momentum from that [game], I feel like Kansas is a golden opportunity.”
Kansas (7-5-1, 0-2-1 Big 12), like Baylor, has yet to find a conference win. Before arriving at Betty Lou, the team lost to Oklahoma State University and then-No. 12 TCU. The Jayhawks recorded a 2-2 draw against West Virginia and now come to Waco seeking a win.
KSU (4-6-2, 0-2-1 Big 12) is in a similar boat, hunting for its first conference win on Sunday, depending how its match against Texas ends on Thursday.
Last season, Baylor failed to find victories against both these teams. The Bears were upset 2-1 in Lawrence, Kansas and tied 0-0 in Manhattan, Kansas. This season, senior Maddie Algya looks to find success on her home turf.
“Two really good teams,” Algya said. “They gave us trouble last year on the road and they’re hard to play on the road. I think that if we lock down and do the right things at home, then we have a pretty good chance.”
These matchups will push the Bears, but Lenard believes the team is capable of overcoming the challenges with hard work.
“It’s a good game for us right now because it challenges us,” Lenard said. “It puts us in a position to come out and compete and try to come away with a result, but it’s definitely very winnable. We want to feel like we can win these games, but we are going to have to earn it.”