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Baylor stumbles early, never recovers in 2-0 loss to Sooners

October 28, 2021

NORMAN, Oklahoma – Baylor was once again doomed by a sluggish start on the road, falling to the Oklahoma Sooners 2-0. OU scored both of their goals in the first fifteen minutes, and both chances came off of corner kicks. Bri Amos (#13) scored on a dribbler of a shot after a scramble in the box from the Sooner’s first corner kick in the 11th minute.  Fellow Senior Jazzy Richards (#26) slotted home a penalty kick in the 15th minute after another Oklahoma corner resulted in a handball by Baylor.

After the nightmare of a start, the Bears settled down defensively, but could not create the decisive chances necessary to mount a comeback. Oklahoma’s physicality ratcheted up and the Bears were held in check for the rest of the night.

The loss sees Baylor fall to 4-2-3 in the Big 12, but it was able to hold onto the third seed in the conference tournament thanks to results elsewhere.

Final Big 12 regular season standings

It was a cold, windy night in Norman, and, whether the elements affected the Bears or not, Baylor looked unconvincing right from the start.

Jennifer Wandt’s first action in front of goal for the night was a stumbling punch-save of an OU shot in the fourth minute. It was a minor misstep but was a sign of things to come.

When the Sooners won a corner in the tenth minute, they packed the Baylor 6-yard box and sent a great ball in. The wind helped the cross hang up in the air and OU attackers blocked Wandt from the ball. It was then headed down and poked back towards goal by Bri Amos. With so many bodies in front of her, Wandt was late to see the shot and could not make up the ground for the save. 1-0.

Only four minutes later, OU won another corner, packed the box again, and put another good ball into the Baylor box. This time, Ally Henderson-Ashkinos accidentally hit the ball with her arm, possibly because of the wind’s effects on the flight of the ball. Either way, it was a penalty for OU. Jazzy Richards (#26) immediately stepped up to the spot and sent Wandt the wrong way to double the Sooners’ lead. 2-0.

From there, OU looked to end the game before Baylor even looked to be in it. A cross was taken by the wind and swept over Wandt onto the crossbar in the 20th minute, but thankfully the rebound was cleared.

Baylor finally had a good offensive spell in the 22nd minute, with Mackenzie Anthony sending a low cross into Taylor Moon at the top of the OU box. Moon layed it off to Gabby Mueller who forced a save from the Sooners’ goalkeeper.

There were more chances to be had for the Bears in the half, but they couldn’t quite get them right. Elizabeth Kooiman had loads of space on the right win around the 30th minute, thanks to a nice turn and pass from Muller, but Kooiman cut inside into the teeth of the defense and lost the ball.

Similarly, Anthony was slipped a great pass by Hornyak after an interception, but Anthony was muscled off the ball as she shot and the keeper made an easy save in the 33rd minute.

By the end of the half, it was clear Oklahoma was the more physically punishing team and they were sharper in the final third.

After halftime, the Bears did a better job of keeping possession, but a bad touch here or there doomed most attacks. Several players just didn’t seem like their usual selves tonight, and it added up.

The Bears kept trying though, with Kooiman mishitting a shot In the 52nd minute, and Wandt having to practically run over OU players in her box to get to the ball in the 53rd.

Mueller had possibly Baylor’s best shot of the night in the 57th minute. She found space at the top of the box, left of center, and unleashed a chipped, curling shot over the keeper. Sadly, the keeper found a way to get her fingertips to it and made the tip save.

A minute later, Mueller was again near the top of the box with the ball, but in her quest for a shot closer to the goal, she was dispossessed.

After that, Baylor seemed to lose some attacking steam, and Oklahoma pushed forward for a third goal.

Part of that push forward was a ramp-up in physicality. Oklahoma earned yellow cards in the 51st and 62nd minutes and made play noticeably chippier. The ref was trying to stay in control but ended up just tagging Baylor players with yellow cards through the rest of the game.

Ally Henderson-Ashkinos was shown a yellow for kicking the ball into an OU player after play was stopped in the 72nd minute. The problem was, Henderson-Ashkinos, like many others throughout the game, did not appear to hear the whistle.

Taylor Moon was hit with a yellow for a challenge on the keeper ten minutes later, but there didn’t appear to be much in that either. Moon was just hustling hard. The keeper was down for a while but played through the rest of the game.

And not long after that Mueller was shown a yellow card for a tackle that was just par for the course of the game.

These cards didn’t really cause any problems in for the Bears in the grand scheme of things though. They just could not seem to match the type of physicality that OU brought, and they could not generate the same quality of chances that the Sooners did.

Unrelenting, the Sooners kept pushing for a third during the last ten minutes of the game. Wandt kept the Sooners at bay, but the pressure was enough to help the Sooners ease across the finish line.

It was a disappointing showing from the Bears to finish the regular season. They didn’t lose any seeding from this game, but they could use a win now more than ever to boost their resume ahead of the NCAA tournament selection process.

Results around the rest of the conference saw TCU win the regular-season title for the second year in a row, Iowa State grabbed the eighth seed for the Big 12 tournament, and Baylor hold onto the third seed despite the troubling loss.

The Bears will face the sixth seed West Virginia in the nightcap in Round Rock on Sunday at 8 PM. That game will be available on ESPN+. The result of that game could be the difference-maker between Baylor making the NCAA tournament or not, thanks to the lack of wins late in the year for the Bears.

West Virginia is beatable for the Bears, but it will be a battle. Every game at the Big 12 tournament will be a battle, but from here on its win or go home. A bad start could mean an earlier end to your season. Hopefully, Baylor bounces back and boosts their resume on Sunday.

WotM: Another split decision between the two bright spots for the Bears on a dull night. Gabby Mueller and Sarah Hornyak were dynamic but isolated for most of the game.

Up Next: The Big 12 Tournament – No. 7 West Virginia (8 PM, Round Rock Multipurpose Complex, ESPN+)

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Baylor stumbles early, never recovers in 2-0 loss to Sooners

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