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Baylor Soccer

Bears Battle but Fall 1-0 to the No. 19 SMU Mustangs

September 18, 2022
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DALLAS — Baylor Soccer lost another close match Sunday evening, this time to the No. 19 SMU mustangs 1-0 thanks to a Mackenzie Rudden goal in the 24th minute.

After 10 days off in the wake of a 3-1 loss to San Francisco and a cancellation with Gonzaga, the Bears looked much better defensively in Dallas. However, the offensive output was far from what coach Michelle Lenard is aiming for both in goals and in shots created.

“I’m proud of the girls for competing till the end,” said Lenard, “Right up to the last second, I thought we might be able to find a way to score a goal. And that's our continued struggle is... create some half chances, a look here or there... we're not executing well, and we're certainly not creating enough opportunities. So it continues to be frustrating.”

Baylor has now scored just seven goals in eight regular season this year. With a new offensive system drastically different from the previous staff’s, struggles are not unexpected. But it can wear on coaches and players alike when the same struggles continue through a whole season.

“We've gotta be more productive offensively. Until that happens, the best we can hope for are ties” Lenard said frankly after the game. “I thought we did a good job of limiting their good looks on goal over the course of the game.”

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Baylor registered just 6 shots in the entire 90 minutes with only two on goal. There were more chances, but many crosses and chipped balls were just too close to the keeper.

Defensively, the Bears allowed the Mustangs 11 shots with just five on goal. For a ranked opponent, that's a pretty solid job by the Bears in open play.

The issue is, Baylor did not concede from open play. In the 24th minute, SMU won a free kick near Baylor’s left defensive corner. Courtney Sebazco sent a great ball into the box where Mackenzie Rudden got her head on the end of it and powered the ball into the back of the net. 1-0 SMU.

“It's an unfortunate goal in the first half,” Coach Lenard said afterward, “A silly foul and that leads to a free kick, and then we didn't defend the free kick very well.”

And the difference can be that small. Lose your mark one time, switch off mentally for a second and it can haunt you.

For this team, the margin of error is razor-thin. They are not clinical in front of goal, so defensive mistakes hurt that much more.

“That's a good team. They're, they're good in their possession, their ball movement. I thought we did a great job limiting their chances, but we've gotta find a way to get on the end of the ball in the box.”

And the Bears did create some good chances.

In the 10th minute of the game, Elizabeth Kooiman got on the end of a Jenna Patterson short corner at the near post. Due to the circumstances, Kooiman tried the only way she could likely get the ball on goal: a flick.

It went just wide.

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Kooiman’s heel flick attempt

Ashley Merrill worked a couple of good chances later in the half as well. In the 17th minute, she made a contested run in the right central channel and pushed her shot wide right.

In the 38th minute, Merrill was just offside when Olivia Mack sent a flick-on header towards goal. The whistle blew before Merrill skied her shot over the goal.

Both teams worked some really good chances in the first six minutes of the second half, but it was closer to 2-0 SMU than 1-1.

Haven Terry sent a very nice cross into the box for the Bears, but Jenna Patterson couldn’t get a clean look with the defense all around her.

Moments later, Jewel Boland lashed a shot off the Bears’ crossbar and down onto the goal line before it was cleared by a Baylor defender.

The better chances for the green and gold came later in the second half with Kylie Finney sending a powerful shot toward the SMU keeper in the 78th minute. It was saved but spilled a little by the goalie.

Then in the 81st, Kayley Ables sent a chipped shot in from a tough angle on the left wing. It would have been tough for the keeper but it was a foot or two wide of the far post.

Right at the end of the game, there was a last gasp for the Bears. The ball was lofted into the box off a free kick, but the keeper met the ball at the same time as Hannah Augustyn got her head to it. The ball was cleared and the game ended in a 1-0 loss for Baylor.

Another gritty showing by the team, but another tough loss.

Conference play is here now with Oklahoma coming to Waco for a Friday game. Home games like this are the best chances for Baylor to make some noise in Big 12 play.

WotM: Ashley Merrill — She got half of Baylor’s shots off. Otherwise, the team battled and lost as a team. That’s not exactly something to overlook.

Up Next: vs. Oklahoma Friday (9/23) 7 PM ESPN+

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Bears Battle but Fall 1-0 to the No. 19 SMU Mustangs

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