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Baylor Soccer

Bears downed by Mountaineers 1-0, out of Big 12 tournament

October 31, 2021

ROUND ROCK, Texas — Baylor Soccer crashed out of the Big 12 tournament thanks to a 1-0 loss to West Virginia Sunday night. The Bears played incredibly well, the Mountaineers just had one moment of individual brilliance that put them over the top. Dilary Heredia-Beltran scored an amazing goal in the 80th minute to break the 0-0 tie and grab the win for WVU.

Baylor falls to 8-5-6 overall and their RPI of 46 will surely take a hit. It is now wait-and-see for the Bears, with the NCAA Tournament selection show on Monday, November 8th. Their season could be over, or they could still make a run. Either way, this string of mostly draws and a couple of losses to end the season has hurt their chances.

West Virginia advances in the Big 12 tournament to face Texas in the semifinals on Thursday. The other semifinal is TCU vs Texas Tech.

From the first kick tonight, it was clear that the conference tournament is a different beast. The best comparison I can make is playoff hockey. The skill is at a high level, but the intensity is from another planet. 

These teams were playing for their post-season lives and it’s clear. Fouls came early and often with West Virginia winning two free-kicks in Baylor’s half in the first eight minutes. Neither were particularly threatening to Jennifer Wandt’s goal. 

After a timely and well-executed challenge was won around the Baylor Box by Sarah Norman, the Bears’ offense started to turn up the heat. 

Senior forward Taylor Moon and sophomore midfielder Gabby Mueller worked well together to create chances in the first half. In the 12th minute, Mueller sent in a cross that was just a bit too high for Mackenzie Anthony. 

The ball was then cycled around and Elizabeth Kooiman was able to get a good shot off from the left wing. The WVU keeper saved it, but it was a solid sequence for the Bears. 

A few minutes later, the Green and gold were back on the defensive with #26 lashing a great shot into the side netting. It barely missed the top left corner of the frame.

In the 24th minute, the physicality of the game came to the forefront again. Wandt sent a free-kick into the WVU box from near midfield. In her aerial attempt to win the ball, Anthony collided with the on-rushing Mountaineer keeper. The keeper went down hard and Anthony was rather harshly shown a yellow card. 

The Bears pressed right on through that adversity and continued to put pressure on the WVU goal. In the 25th minute, Moon and Mueller had a nice give-and-go setting Moon up to put a cross into the WVU box. The keeper spilled the cross, but Anthony could not get there before the keeper recovered.

Unrelenting s always, Moon pressed hard right after that and forced a turnover. With that opportunity, she hammered a shot in towards the Mountaineers goal, but it was wide right and always rising.

Sadly, that was probably Moon’s last shot of the season. In the 30th minute, she went into a challenge in the WVU box, and after contact with a defender went down in a lot of pain. She was holding her left knee and had to be helped off the field. 

The game kept going end to end for the rest of the half, but neither side created any amazing chances. Ally Henderson-Ashkinos sent a beautiful long ball over the top of the defense in the 38th minute, but it was just too far for Olivia Mack.

On the defensive side of things, Sarah Norman and Sarah Hornyak played outstanding in the first half making timely stops to shut down WVU attacks. 

As a whole, the Bears seemed to execute their gameplay well. West Virginia could only claim a slight advantage in terms of possession and or chances created in the first period. 

The second half Wass largely the same, but Baylor had to work to find other ways to create good chances without Moon on the field. 

West Virginia worked hard early in the half to pressure the Bears and win a handful of corner kicks. The most dangerous of which came in the 54th minute, but the Bears found a way to block the Mountaineers’ shots and clear the ball after what felt like an eternity of it bouncing around the box. 

Around the 57th minute, Anthony and Kooiman tested the keeper with a couple of consecutive shots and crosses. Hornyak followed that up in the 59th with a good curling cross from fairly deep on the right wing. 

After 75 minutes were in the books, West Virginia was starting to find some open spaces in Baylor’s defense during transition moments. That came back to bite the Bears five minutes later when Dilary Heredia-Beltran (#18) found a lot of space between the midfield and the backline. She drove forward and unleashed a practically perfect shot into the top right corner of Wandt’s goal. On her best day Wandt might not have gotten to that shot. It was just too powerful and too well placed. 1-0 West Virginia.

The Mountaineers were not content with just one goal though. They pressed for more and forced a great save from Wandt just two minutes later. This time, the all-conference keeper was able to get her fingertips to it and keep her team close.

The last eight minutes were a mad scramble for scoring opportunities by Baylor. Long balls into Lorelai Stramrood and Mackenzie Anthony were flicked on well but didn’t quite create shot opportunities. 

A bouncing ball found its way to Maddie Algya at the top of the box, but she pulled her shot just a bit wide to the left. 

After that, Baylor couldn’t get another shot off. The game ended 1-0, and the Bears will have to go back to Waco and play the waiting game.

The NCAA Tournament selection show will be on Monday, November 8th. 

Despite the final score, this was a great game. Both teams executed their gameplays well, adjusted to what the game threw at them, and fought hard. The intensity level was something I had not seen all year, and the skill was as good as ever. It truly felt like that next-level, post-season play. 

Hopefully, the Bears will get some more of that in November. Till then, we wait.

WotM: Sarah Norman - She made a bunch of great interventions tonight, blocking shots and winning challenges. Tough choice when the whole team played their hearts out.

Up Next: NCAA Tournament Selection Show (Monday, 11/8) 

When I find out the time and where to watch, I will make a post in the forums.

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Bears downed by Mountaineers 1-0, out of Big 12 tournament

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