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Baylor Soccer

Preview: Baylor Soccer Starts Homestand with Kansas

October 6, 2022
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WACO, Texas — Baylor Soccer (2-6-2, 0-2-0) welcomes the Kansas Jayhawks (7-5-1, 0-2-1) to Betty Lou Mays Field on Thursday night to kick conference play into high gear. 

The green and gold are coming off of one of their best performances of the year in a tight 1-0 loss to Texas in Austin last Friday. 

“After UT there wasn't a whole lot of negativity. People were excited. People were positive,” starting goalkeeper Lauren Traywick said Wednesday, “and it's because we went out and we competed well. We saw what we were capable of.”

The Longhorns, who returned to the national rankings this week at No. 23, are another good benchmark for what this Baylor team can do when they can play the way they want to play.

“Texas is arguably, if not the best, one of the top two teams in the conference,” said head coach Michelle Lenard, “And we were with them toe to toe the entire 90 minutes.”

But can the Bears take that good showing and build on it against Kansas Thursday night? Can they adapt to a different opponent that might not play as openly as the Longhorns?

“I think absolutely we feel momentum,” Lenard said, “We've improved in all the areas we've asked the team to improve in. We created more chances on goal. Better chances on goal... and really, not to place blame, but we were unfortunate not to have a penalty call in our favor [against UT].”

With the good performance just behind them and a few of the other teams in the bottom half of the Big 12 standings up next for Baylor, there is an opportunity to turn a corner for the Bears. They can go a long way to securing a spot in Round Rock for the Big 12 conference tournament.

“Here is a big, big turning point I would say in our season if we can come out and we can play our hearts out and we can get positive results,” said Traywick, “I feel like we can build momentum and have success off of that. “

Jack Mackenzie - SicEm365
Lauren Traywick

Looking more closely at the Jayhawks, they have already played three of the best team in the conference in Oklahoma State, TCU and West Virginia. Despite losses to the first two, they earned a draw in Morgantown last week, a result not going underapprecited by Baylor.

“Kansas is an incredibly dynamic team. They went out and they had a great game against West Virginia, and so their result from that game obviously... it turns heads,” noted Lauren Traywick.

Baylor is the lowest team in the standings that Kansas will play in the first half of their conference slate, so there is likely a target on Baylor as a great opportunity for a win. After Waco, KU heads down to Austin themselves. 

This is winnable game for the Bears though. Kansas beat a common opponent in Iowa 1-0, while the Bear should have done more than the 0-0 tie the earned against the Hawkeyes.

Defensively for the green and gold, they will need to keep tabs on midfielder No. 9 Rylan Childers. She has five of kansas’ 20 goals this year plus three assists. Childers also scored the opener against the Bears in Lawrence last year.

Elsewhere, forward No. 27 Shira Elinav has netted six goals and dished out two assists for the Jayhawks.

So can the Bears keep a good defensive run going from the Texas game and stop this Jayhawk attack?  Can they finally get one in the back of the net after going scoreless in the last 346 game minutes?

Traywick offered this on Wednesday: “I feel like we showed up on defense and we showed up on offense [against UT]. Our offense is starting to gain momentum and because of the positivity and momentum from that, I feel like Kansas is a golden opportunity.”

“We do need to win. And we want to win,” added senior midfielder Maddie Algya. 

The team knows they are running out of opportunities to break through and prove that the good performances aren’t just better looking bad results. However, Michelle Lenard doesn’t see this as more pressure building on her or her team.

“I don't know that it's any more pressure. We all feel the pressure to try to get a positive result every week. And we know every game in the Big 12 is not only important, but also winnable.”

Jack Mackenzie - SicEm365

 


In order to alleviate some of that pressure and win their first game since September 1st against Houston, the Bears need to start finding the back of the net.

“It's gotta come eventually,” said coach Lenard, “And when it does, I do think it could come in twos and threes. But right now, frankly, we would take one.”

The team is creating a lot of good chances, but the finishes aren’t there. While I’m not privvy to the advanced stats like xG and xGA (expected goals and expected goals against) the team does utilize them to break down their play. 

Coach Lenard has shared multiple times that the team is winning the xG battle, so there is hard evidence to back up her claims. Plus she feels her team is peaking right now. They are getting more comfortable with the style of play and have a stretch of three especially winnable games coming up.

On top of that, the Bears now have freshmen centerforwards Morgan Greensage and Reneta Varga back on the field after early season injuries. They are the only two players currently healthy with significant experience at the position.

“I think what both of them have done, probably better than just about anyone else who we've had play in that position, is their movement off the ball to create opportunities for others,” said Lenard.

L“Both of them have great instincts somehow not to just create for themself, but create for others. And they both have a lot of experience. Playing in that high central role, which none of our other players that were healthy did. And now it's helping the other players who were being asked to play out of position to go back to their position like Elizabeth Kooiman, who's now playing much better, where she's more comfortable.”

So there is a decent bit going well for Baylor, makes the only question left to answer really “Can they go out there and bring home a win?”

The Bottom Line: Convert the chances you produce and dictate the game to the Jayhawks instead of letting Kansas control things.

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Preview: Baylor Soccer Starts Homestand with Kansas

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