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Baylor Soccer

Preview: Baylor Finishes Non-Conference Play at SMU Sunday

September 17, 2022

After a tough road trip to the west coast, Michelle Lenard and a couple of her players had plenty to say as they prepare for their final non-conference game. Let’s take a look at the Bears’ matchup with SMU before diving into further notes and quotes about the San Francisco game and more.

Previewing No. 19 SMU

The Mustangs are 4-1-3, ranked, and by all accounts a solid team defensively. They have conceded multiple goals in a game just once this year (their lone loss). 

They have tied then Ranked Tennessee and San Francisco, who the Bears just struggled against last Thursday. SMU’s wins are not of great note for a ranked team outside of Rice, who I believe has a solid program. The Mustangs' only loss was in their last game against East Carolina, who received votes in the latest United Soccer Coaches poll. 

In light of the common opponent USF, there are some things that can be drawn out. Baylor really did well attacking the Dons and will look to put similar pressure on SMU. 

“We still feel that we could have, and potentially should have won that game,” Baylor head coach Michelle Lenard said. 

Elizabeth Kooiman and the Bears' offense looked dangerous but struggled to convert. At the other end, defensive mistakes were severely punished in San Francisco and not every team will make the green and gold pay like that. Plus, Baylor will be focusing on making fewer errors in the wake of that performance, especially given that this is the only game for the team this week.

“I think the game on Thursday, we were really able to learn from what happened and it took a couple of days to process, but it's good to have one game this week,” said senior midfielder Maddie Algya.

“So we've been working on a ton of good stuff to get ready for this weekend… you just gotta look ahead to the next one”

Algya and company in the midfield will have to play at the top of their game for the Bears to leave Dallas with a good result though. The Mustangs boast a very good midfield with Courtney Sebazco (#28) running things. But some of the Bears are more than familiar with their opponents.

Last year, the Bears topped SMU 2-1 in overtime in Waco. Beyond that many on both teams are from the DFW area and played each other in high school. 

“I’m excited. I know one of them personally and played against her for years,” said Algya, “And so I think it'll be a good challenge… we're more excited than anything just to get back out there after a week and a couple of days.”

That is the attitude that coach Lenard will want from the team as they play for the first time in 10 days.

Word for word, Lenard said: “Having to sit on this for a little bit longer is certainly uncomfortable, but I'm hoping that that adds a little fire to the team, a little hunger to go out and perform well against SMU.”

The excitement was echoed by senior defender Kayley Ables, who might see herself deployed in a different role against SMU. 

“We're messing around with different formations right now,” Ables mentioned. “Different people playing in different areas. And I mean, we're just excited to get out there.”

After being played at her old high school position of forward, Ables might be a tad more amped than the others to hit the field again for a game and test out those different formations.

The Bottom Line: This is tough opponent, but if the Bears come out with focus and play a clean game, they know they can hang with the Mustangs. The key is responding from last week well and giving themselves that chance.

Notes and Quotes

At the preview presser, coach Lenard gave some nice insight into how they are trying to analyze their play, as well as the personnel situations the team has. Kayley Ables also offered more insight on her play as a forward and the team in general as conference play looms.

Kayley Ables:

  • On not being able to play Gonzaga: “It was really tough. I think we were ready to play the next game just to prove a point and then we weren't able to play it”

  • On playing forward again: “Different. Interesting. The level's definitely obviously a lot higher than it was in high school. So at some point it isn't necessarily about rules. It's just getting at the goal, whatever you have to do.”

  • On moving forward: “We're just using each game, each practice as an opportunity to get better and better… even the game against San Francisco, it sucks losing, especially the way we did, but I think it is gonna make us better in the end.”

  • On the freshmen being ready for the Big 12: “I think so. And if not, I think games like the ones in San Francisco are the best way to prepare them. I don't think they would be as prepared if we hadn't gotta get such hard teams in the preseason.”

Michelle Lenard

  • On the USF loss and Gonzaga cancellation: “Had a good team talk afterwards, worked through some things, watched some film. We were really ready to get back after it against Gonzaga. And then, unfortunately, we're met with an unusual situation with the air quality and sat there for two days. Couldn't train couldn't play.”

  • On overall play: “I think we're continuing to learn our risk-reward factors here. Overall we're doing a good job at it, but when we make errors, they tend to be catastrophic errors.”

  • On continued development: “What we're lacking right now is maybe just some decision-making on when it's not a good idea to play that way. We've never said at any point in time, that's the only way we want to play. We want to make good soccer decisions and we wanna exploit the space that's available to us.”

  • On advanced stats and converting that to results: “I think some of its just execution. I mean, again, we go back and we look at stats that aren't available on a box score that break down the quality of chances that we're creating compared to the quality of chances our opponent creates. And if you, if you were... you can't, but if you go off of that, we'd be 4-2-1 instead of 2-3-2... If we're creating one and a half to two XG a game, that's not bad and we really need to be putting one of those goals away.”

  • On Elizabeth Kooiman: “She's been asked to play in a different role than she's played in historically. And so it's different when you're playing center forward than when you're playing winger. She's usually against two center backs. There might be a defensive mid in the area. There's a lot less time and space on the ball. And so she's starting to get more comfortable with that idea.” Coach feels like she’s “due”

  • They had planned to play Kayley Ables at forward against San Francisco at some point, and obviously they had hoped to not be behind when they did so.

Personnel Notes from Lenard

  • “At this point, Marissa, I think has decided not to come back this season. She's not gonna be able to return to the level that she needs to yet, so we're not gonna have her back.”

  • On Taylor Moon: It’s just a matter of time. Whether that time is with many game left to play or not is the question.

  • “Morgan [Greensage], and Reneta [Vargas] two freshmen who both play forward are probably the closest and hopefully by the OU game, we can start getting them on the field for a few minutes.”

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Preview: Baylor Finishes Non-Conference Play at SMU Sunday

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