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Baylor Soccer

Preview: Baylor Soccer hosts West Virginia on Senior Day

October 23, 2021

WACO, Texas – Baylor Soccer hosts the 9-4-3 West Virginia Mountaineers for the final home game of the season on Sunday afternoon at 1 pm. WVU is 3-2-2 in conference after drawing 0-0 with Texas on Thursday night, which dropped them to 6th place. The 8-3-5 Bears are 4-1-2 in the Big 12, good for 3rd in the conference, and will be celebrating Senior Day.

Baylor has four seniors plus four graduate students on the roster, and between COVID and this being my first year covering the team, I am not certain who all is in their last year with the team. So, here are all eight:

Ally Henderson-Ashkinos

#21 Ally Henderson-Ashkinos – Midfielder, GR., Wichita, KS

The starting midfielder has barely missed a game in her five years with the program, starting every time, and finding her way into the top ten in program history for assists, minutes played, and games played. In fact, I believe she is the program leader in games played at 97 currently. She has been named to multiple all-Big 12 academic teams and has been an absolute anchor in her defensive midfield role.

Sarah Norman

#5 Sarah Norman – Defender, Gr., McKinney, TX

After starting college at Texas Tech and transferring to Baylor, Norman earned a starting role by the end of her first season of play with the Bears in 2018. Since then she has been a mainstay in the Baylor backline while also being named to multiple all-Big 12 academic teams.


Jennifer Wandt

#8 Jennifer Wandt – Goalkeeper, Gr., Brookfield, WI

Baylor Soccer’s all-time leader in wins, shutouts, and weekly Big-12 awards, not to mention her 94 games played, which I believe is second only to Henderson-Ashkinos. Wandt has earned all-Big 12 second team and preseason first-team honors to go along with multiple all-conference academic team honors.

Alyssa Navarrete

#00 Alyssa Navarrete – Goalkeeper, Gr., Chandler, AZ

A transfer from Georgetown in her first year with the Baylor program, I am not sure if this is her last year playing. She was a highly regarded recruit and battled for playing time at a consistently ranked Georgetown program before choosing to continue her career at Baylor.


Kayley Ables

#6 Kayley Ables – Defender/Forward, Sr., Waco, TX

The hometown senior has been a consistent presence for Baylor’s defense over the last four years. She switched from forward to defender freshman year and was named to the Big 12 all-freshman team. She was a preseason all-Big 12 team member in 2019, all-Big 12 second team in 2020, and has made an all-conference academic team every year, highlighted by her perfect 4.0 GPA this year. She also scored her first goal for the Bears earlier this year at Kansas.

Giuliana Cunningham

#23 Giuliana Cunningham – Midfielder/Defender, Sr., Highland Park, IL

While she has only started in 19 of her 59 games as a Bear to date, Cunningham has been a key substitute for coach Jobson off the bench. She earned Big 12 freshman of the week honors back in 2018 and has been a consistent presence on the Big 12 all-academic team throughout her time at Baylor. This year she has offered great ball-winning ability and aerial prowess in relief of the starting midfielders, things that have helped the Bears close out close games.

Taylor Moon

#9 Taylor Moon – Forward/Midfielder, Sr., Highland Village, TX

The all-conference forward has netted 15 goals for Baylor over her college career. After being a substitute as an underclassman, she has started the majority of games over the last two years. Her combination of pace, strength, and skill is tough for opponents to handle on its own, but she is also one of the hardest fighters on the team. She has earned places on the 2018 Big 12 all-freshman team, the 2020 all-Big 12 second team, and the 2021 all-Big 12 preseason team, along with multiple all-conference academic team awards.

Baylor Athletics
Elena Reyna

#4 Elena Reyna – Forward, Sr., Flower Mound, TX

While she has not played this year and made only a single appearance last year while dealing with knee injuries, Reyna made 31 appearances as an underclassman, netting 4 goals for the Bears. She has made multiple Big 12 commissioner’s honor rolls, as well as the 2018 academic all-Big 12 rookie team.

Maddie Algya

#10 Maddie Algya – Midfielder, Jr., Highland Village, TX

While listed as a Junior on the team roster, it is her fourth year with the team, and she is being honored with the other members of the class that came in in 2018 with her. Making starts in the midfield since her freshman season, she has helped run the midfield with Henderson-Ashkinos. Battling through two knee injuries during her career, Algya has been a consistent and important presence in the middle of the field for the Bears this year. She has also made multiple all-Big 12 academic teams.

The graduate students have been here since 2017 and helped Baylor claim the conference tournament title and an elite eight appearance that year. When the current seniors joined them in 2018, the team won the Big 12 regular-season championship and returned to the elite eight. These classes have helped Baylor Soccer reach some of its greatest heights on the field.

It is also important to remember that every program is much more than its on-field results, and each member of these classes has helped make the program what it is now, regardless of what they do on the field.

Now on to the opponents West Virginia:

Up until this week’s poll, the Mountaineers had been ranked all year, and for good reason. Every year, coach Nikki Izzo-Brown has her team ready to compete at a high level. She has built this program from the ground up, as its only coach during its 26-year history. She is 153-46-23 in conference between their Big East and Big 12 days.

Over the last nine years, the Mountaineers have won either the conference tournament or the regular-season championship six times, totaling nine titles of the 17 available (there was no conference tournament last year).

With such a strong program, it makes sense that WVU challenged itself in non-conference play this year, losing close games to #2 Virginia and #24 Penn State while drawing with #20 Georgetown.

“They're a battle-tested team,” coach Paul Jobson said “They're their perennial powerhouse in women's soccer. Their record isn't what it has been in the past, and we are used to seeing them at the top of the Big 12 year-in and year-out, but they're a great team. And, you know, they're going to be a force to be reckoned with when they come in here, as they are every year.”

They might be used to the battle, but as coach Jobson alluded to, they are not used to winning those tough games this year. Inside the Big 12, they lost to #11 TCU and drew with #21 Texas, so they have yet to win against a ranked quality team.

While Baylor currently sits outside the rankings, it has wins over TCU and #16 SMU. The bears will not be out of their depth against the Mountaineers, and they might even feel that they can continue WVU’s misfortunes against tough, quality teams.

To do just that and walk away with a win, the green-and-gold will have to not only shut down a multipronged attack, but they will have to get past a solid defense anchored by an all-American senior defender and an all-conference junior goalkeeper.

That defender is Jordan Brewster (#10) who has won second-team all-American honors last season to go along with first-team all-Big 12 honors. She has not missed a single minute of action for WVU all year and has even tacked on 2 goals and two assists.

With Brewster leading the backline, it will be tough for Baylor to generate a lot of good scoring chances. The problem is, when the Bears do manage to generate shots on goal, they will be going against an all-conference caliber keeper in Kayza Massey (#00).

If Baylor can create consistent pressure on Massey to make saves, then they could cause some problems. Massey has only had to make 34 saves all year thanks to the Mountaineers consistently being in attack mode. It will take a great game from the Bears to pin the Mountaineers back like that, but it is possible.

Big 12 Standings heading into Sunday’s games

That scenario is also not necessary for Baylor to come away with a win. If they take their chances against WVU as they did against TCU and Oklahoma State at the start of conference play, then the Bears could quickly be in control of the game.

If you thought that Baylor is in for a tough match based on all of that, let's take a second to look at the Mountaineer attack.

Redshirt senior forward Lauren Segalla (#9) leads an experienced group with six goals this year. Joining her are senior midfielder Isabella Sibley (#19) four goals and three assists, plus junior forward Julianne Vallerand who has netted four goals and grabbed one assist.

Beyond those three, five more players have scored multiple goals for WVU, and a further five have found the net once.

Across the board, West Virginia is experienced and plays a physical game. Baylor is in for another hard-fought conference game like Texas Tech, where skill, grit, and desire all have to be top priorities.

Beyond the complete type of challenge that West Virginia poses for the Bears, Baylor needs to win out to keep their regular-season championship hopes alive. Maybe that goal can be what pushes Baylor past WVU.

The Bottom Line: A complete test means a complete evaluation of where this team is at. If they win, who knows how far they might go? Anything besides a win Sunday will be a disappointing way to send the seniors off, though it would not be very bad in the grand scheme of things.

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Preview: Baylor Soccer hosts West Virginia on Senior Day

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