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Baylor Soccer

Soccer Season Preview: Top Three Non-Conference Games

August 8, 2022

With the soccer season just a couple of weeks away, and exhibitions starting on August 11, it’s time to help people get to know the team and its schedule.

We started with the Top Three Returning Players, looked at the Top Three Newcomers, broke down who the Top Three “Upside” Returners are, looked at the Top Three Questions for the 2022 Baylor Soccer team, and today we tab the Top Three Non-Conference games.

Tomorrow, I will highlight the three most important Big 12 for the Bears games before looking ahead to the season-opening exhibition vs. LSU on Thursday.

The Top Three Non-Conference Games

These are rather subjective choices. I’m just excited to see these games and think that success in them could create a lot of momentum for the team.

Vs. Wisconsin (8/21) — First up we have the return fixture from last year’s 0-0 draw up in Madison. Wisconsin is a solid team, receiving votes in the preseason United Soccer Coaches poll. While preseason rankings don’t mean much in the grand scheme of things, Baylor would like to be one of those teams receiving votes during the season this year as well as heading into coming years. And it’s like Coach Lenard said on John Morris’ podcast “We want to play the best teams in the country because we want to eventually be the best team in the country.”

Wisconsin, the second game of the year, is a great opportunity to start doing that.

Vs. North Carolina in Austin (8/28) — Take the quote from above and circle it, highlight it, and draw a big arrow from it to this game on the calendar. The Tar Heels have won 21 of the 40 NCAA Women’s Soccer National Championships (1982-Present) as well as 23 of 27 possible ACC championships. They have never missed the NCAA Tournament, and they have produced 74 All-Americans.

While the program has had more competition over the last decade, they are still the bluest of blue bloods and start the year with a preseason No. 10 ranking. So think of the opportunity this presents to an aspiring young squad from Waco and their new head coach. A good showing would be nice, a draw would be really good for the resume, and a win would be amazing for Baylor in many ways. Confidence and experience gained by the players, a bit of reputation added to the program, and a big win for the tournament resume.

It will be very tough to earn that kind of result, but there’s a reason they play the games.

Oh, and it’s scheduled for noon in Austin, Texas in August. Only one of these teams trains in the Texas heat.

At SMU (9/18) — SMU was one of the more exciting wins for Baylor last year. The Bears scored a golden goal in overtime to top the Mustangs 2-1 in Waco. This past Spring, the Bears went up to Dallas and came home with a 0-0 draw.

SMU should be a good team this year. They are the preseason No. 23 and made it to the round of 32 last year before losing to eventual champion Florida State. They return their best players in midfield and attack, plus this game will be on their turf.

It should be a challenge, but towards the end of non-conference, perhaps Coach Lenard will have her team in a groove. A win would be great for the resume if the Mustangs are as good as coaches from the poll think they can be.

Overall the non-conference schedule is very tough. Three Big Ten teams early on, the tournament in Austin with UNC and Florida, plus a pair of games against West Coast Conference teams (a league that is no slouch for Soccer) and a pair of in-state contests with SMU and Houston.

As far as making the big dance at the end of the year, non-conference is pretty much as important as Big 12 play. It is legitimately half your resume. Let’s see what the Bears can do with it this year.

Up Next: Top Three Conference Games

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Soccer Season Preview: Top Three Non-Conference Games

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