School is back in session for us students here in Waco and with it came a hot and muggy afternoon/evening. Despite the lovely weather (and the broken A/C in one of my classrooms), there was a sports thing to be done! The Baylor Soccer team finished out their opening weekend of the season (not counting the two exhibition games) this evening. How did they do?
After losing a 2-1 heart-breaker in double overtime on Friday to USF, the Bears took the pitch in the swampy weather to try and earn their first win of the season against Michigan State.
I can't recall exactly how the Bears started the game, but it was fairly similar to the second half, in which they started with RSFR/UCF transfer Rebecca Gartner (JR Sara Martinson got the start) in goal, JR Lindsay Burns, SO Delanie Davis, SR Katie Daigle, SR McKenna Martin, and JR Emily Cason at defender, FR Sarah King and FR Julie James at midfielder (one of the defenders was playing midfield too, just can't remember who), and SR Bri Campos, FR Jackie Crowther, and SO Precious Akanyirige at forward. Now, as you might have noticed, Baylor players kind of don't stick to a set formation, so this is more just a list of who started. Freshmen Lauren Piercy saw significant minutes at midfield/forward, as did junior Ashley York. Hadley Young (senior defender) was another player who saw more than thirty minutes. Ashanti Carey, Marissa Sullivan, Amanda Hoglund, and Katie Milberger also saw playing time.
Baylor started off the match strong, with a few good balls into the box in the first five to ten minutes. Bri Campos was quite literally all over the pitch. She was involved in a good 50% of the plays during the first 30 minutes or so, despite being shoved around the entire time. After twenty minutes, the game settled in to a nice back and forth, with both sides seeing decent, though ultimately fruitless chances. In the 41st minute, MSU's captain (who wore an eye patch and played with a wicked black eye) netted the first goal of the match off a corner. Just before half, but after the MSU goal, sub Ashanti Carey took a cleared ball all the way up the pitch in exciting fashion only to be stifled by MSU's keeper.
In the second half, it was all about the Spartans' keeper. She stopped numerous attempts by the Bears to equalize. In the early stages of the half, Baylor players combined for a brilliant passing set that led to a short-range shot...which, of course, the keeper parried. The second major save for MSU's keep was a shot from Sarah King, a gorgeous curving shot into the upper ninety which the keeper managed to reach with one hand and force over the bar. In the 79th minute, the Spartans scored their second (and ultimately game-winning) goal off of a lob that flew weirdly. Keeper Gartner got her hands to it, but was unable to hold on, and the ball ended up in the side of the net.
With under six minutes to go, Baylor finally broke the shutout. McKenna Martin found the end of a Bri Campos corner with her head and slotted it nicely into the back of the net. While Baylor tried to get the equalizer, they simply ran out of time after their first goal, ultimately falling, 2-1.
Overall, I think is was a well-played game. This team is very young, and are still finding their identity as a team. At the same time, they are playing some very good sides. The defense, as always, was solid. The midfielders, in my opinion, were overpowered a bit too much. At the same time, MSU also had some tall gals out there. Plenty of chances for goals were created, there was just no one on the end of a cross or a defender sniffed out the pass before it happened. Yes, it was disappointing to only score one goal when there were so many chances, but I'd chalk that up to MSU's back line, who were phenomenal.
It's still a very young team as a whole, and they still have some problems to fix, but what team doesn't at this point in the season? I'm excited to see this team once Big 12 play roles around, because they could be darn good.
See y'all September 11th for the next home match!