Baylor soccer looks to secure spot in Big 12 tournament, hosts Oklahoma State

Freshman forward Reneta Vargas pursues possession of the ball during a conference match against Texas Christian University on Oct. 23 at Betty Lou Mays Field. Olivia Havre | Photographer

By AnnaGrace Hale | Sports Writer

With its game at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Baylor soccer looks to end the regular season on a high note with a win against the Oklahoma State University Cowgirls. The Bears are fighting for a spot in the Big 12 tournament. To control its own fate, the squad needs a win.

“At this point, there’s no way and no reason to try to hide it,” head coach Michelle Lenard said. “We know what’s on the line, but every time we come out, we want to put our best foot forward, and we want to put ourselves in a position to have a successful outcome. And so tomorrow is no different.”

However, if the match does not go in Baylor’s favor, there are other ways to clinch a spot in the tournament.

Two teams, Iowa State University and the University of Kansas, sit below No. 8 Baylor in Big 12 rankings. The Wildcats and Jayhawks face each other on Thursday as well. If KU can take a win in Lawrence, Kan., and Baylor loses in Waco, the Jayhawks will head to Round Rock, eliminating the Bears.

If Baylor loses and KU and Iowa State tie, the Bears and Jayhawks will be tied in the rankings at six points each. Baylor would win the head-to-head because of the 3-2 comeback win against Kansas earlier this season.

The moral of the story is, if KU defeats Iowa State and Baylor cannot find a victory in Waco, the Bears are in trouble.

Lenard said she isn’t concerned with the result of the KU and Iowa State game and focuses on what the squad can control.

“[We control] how we play [and] how we perform,” Lenard said. “Whatever happens happens, but we want to make sure that we go out feeling positive about the way that we performed.”

The performance Lenard’s team controls is against the Cowgirls. Last season, Baylor defeated OSU 2-1 in Stillwater, Okla., but now, the orange and black are ranked above the Bears at No. 5 in Big 12 standings. OSU is coming off a 2-1 loss against the University of Texas.

Lenard said Oklahoma State is competitive in its direct and fast style of play.

“It’s going to be important for us to control the tempo of the game,” Lenard said. “Compete and win those aerial challenges, and most importantly, win the second balls. Make sure that nobody is able to pick up a loose ball around the goal.”

Baylor is 14-11-4 in the series and looks for one more win to clinch a spot in Round Rock.

Freshman middle fielder Skye Leach has found some minutes in the midfield this season. She said the team is eager to play this game.

“We feel the pressure, but we’re not scared of it,” Leach said. “I think we can take it on, and it just adds to the energy, and we’re ready to attack the game.”