By Michael Haag | Sports Editor
Just a month into the 2023 season, Baylor soccer has already topped its win total from a year ago. The deciding victory came against UTSA by a score of 1-0 Sunday night at Betty Lou Mays Field.
“Well it didn’t take many, did it?” head coach Michelle Lenard said with a laugh. “It feels nice. [It’s] a little bit of a burden off my shoulders. … I think it could’ve been a little bit more of a comfortable win … but [give] credit to UTSA. They’re really tough to play against.”
Sunday’s contest served as the Bears’ (4-3-1, 0-1 Big 12) final tune-up before jumping back into conference play. Baylor opened league competition against No. 16 Texas on Thursday, losing 4-0 at home.
Baylor’s lone goal came in the 20th minute off the head of senior midfielder Ashley Merrill. Sophomore forward Tyler Isgrig booted a pass into the box off a corner kick and placed it in a tight window on the far left side of the goal. Merrill locked in on the ball and bopped it into the back of the net, marking her seventh goal of the season. She’s one goal away from doubling her total from a year ago.
Graduate student goalkeeper Makinzie Short, who recorded four saves, said Isgrig’s volley was “beautiful” and that the team was thrilled to execute on a corner kick.
“That’s one thing we talked about before the game,” Short said. “We haven’t scored on a true corner before, and that was something that we needed to do. [It was a] perfect service, and it was great to put that in the [back of the] goal.”
The Roadrunners (5-2-2, 0-0-1 AAC) never found the equalizer despite launching 14 shots, with four of them on goal, and Baylor secured its fifth shutout of the season. The green and gold committed 14 fouls, including a trio of yellow cards, while trying to limit UTSA’s attack. The Roadrunners were hit with nine fouls themselves, which Lenard said spoke levels to the physicality of the match.
Lenard added the match presented a good test for the Bears, given how tough Big 12 opponents will play in upcoming contests.
“That’s probably the second game we’ve played that’s this really direct style of play,” Lenard said. “Nebraska was the other team that played the most direct. … BYU’s not going to play that way, but some of the other teams on our schedule coming up are.”
Baylor continues its homestand by jumping back into conference play against No. 1 BYU. The Cougars (7-1-1) are coming off a 1-0 loss at Utah State on Saturday and may not be the top-ranked team in the country when they get to Waco later this week. Baylor’s match against BYU will take place at 7 p.m. Thursday at Betty Lou Mays Field.
Sophomore defender Hallie Augustyn said this was a big win coming off the 4-0 loss to Texas.
“It was definitely disappointing [losing to the Longhorns], but it’s good to see our team respond instead of taking it as an insult,” Augustyn said. “And so, we looked at it as something that we need to improve on [and] not [to] bring us down.”