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Baylor Soccer

No. 16 Texas Blasts Through Baylor Soccer 4-0

September 14, 2023


WACO, Texas — Baylor Soccer (4-3-1, 0-1-0) was beaten down by the No. 16 Texas Longhorns 4-0 thanks to a second-half barrage by the visitors after a hard-fought 0-0 first half.

Lexi Missimo scored twice for Texas despite great efforts by Baylor keeper Ashlee Zirkel in the Big 12 opener for both teams.

Baylor head coach Michelle Lenard chalked it up to inexperience and nerves mostly after the game, saying that those issues kept them from executing the game plan.

“Once you go down a few goals it’s hard to be patient in your build-up … you have to speed things up and our decision-making and ability to speed things up wasn’t very good.”

Ashley Merrill, fresh off of Baylor’s fastest-ever hat trick last Sunday was battered and bruised by the Longhorn midfield in what appeared to be a concerted effort to out-physical the Bears early on. 

While Baylor found ways to play around or through this early on, no cards were shown to the visitors and they were allowed to impose their style of play on the game.

The Bears' best chance of the first half came in the 16th minute when Tyler Isgrig worked her way into the middle of the Texas defense about six years outside of the 18-yard box. From there she launched a shot toward the right post of the goal. The ball went barely wide.

As the half wore on, Baylor’s attack diminished and the Longhorns settled into control of affairs.

“Frankly I think we just played intimidated and nervous,” said Coach Lenard.

And plays like Theresa McCullough’s clearance right into the legs of Hallie Augustyn did not help settle the Bears. With 13 minutes left in the first half, Texas now was running on the Baylor goal and the defense was scrambling.

Zirkel made a save but could not collect the ball. Eventually, it was played into the to the top of the Baylor six-yard box where a header on goal forced Zirkel to jump back across her body and against her momentum to make a great tip save, preserving the 0-0 scoreline. 

Just three minutes later, Texas looked to have broken the deadlock when Zirkel spilled a save straight to a Longhorn who sent a shot glancing off of her teammate and into the top right corner of the goal frame.

However, the ball bounced just barely back out where Blythe Obar cleared the Baylor line. Mercifully, the offside flag was raised as well since the Longhorn that the ball glanced off of was past all but Bears except for Obar.

The Bears navigated the next ten minutes and made it to halftime tied at 0-0.

After the break, the Bears needed to tighten things up in their play but perhaps relax their nerves simultaneously. Neither of those goals were achieved.

“We had a good game plan I felt going into the second half,” said Lenard, “I didn’t think that we applied the game plan very well. And so I’m pretty disappointed in that.”

Six minutes into the half, Ashlee Zirkel misplayed a ball out from the back straight to Texas’ best player on the field, Lexi Missimo. 

Luckily, Zirkel’s pass was hard enough and Massimo’s touch heavy enough that the Longhorn skied her shot over both an onrushing Zirkel and the Baylor goal.

But it would take just three more minutes for the Horns to put a number on the board.

After Texas rescued a ball about to go out for a BU goal kick, Missimo put a shot on goal from under 10 yards out. Obar attempted to block the shot, but at such close range, she could not get her left arm close enough to her body before the ball hit it. 

It was a close call, but the ref awarded Texas a penalty that Missimo would not miss. 1-0 Texas.

A one-goal lead with 35 minutes to play is far from insurmountable, but the Bears just were not up to the task today.

“The penalty swung the momentum against us,” said Coach Lenard after the game, “But we need to be able to handle that situation a lot better than we did.”

What the Bears did was give up three more goals in the 78th, 81st, and 83rd minutes while registering just four shots for the rest of the half.

The second Texas goal came when a shot blocked by Obar fell right to Holly Ward for the Longhorns. Her low shot seemed to go through Hallie Augustyn and scoot past Zirkel. Zirkel was likely screened by Augustyn and her mark leading to a delayed reaction to the shot. 2-0 Texas.

Baylor did fight to draw one back, but it was much too little too late. Jenna Patterson ran hard to track down a long ball down the left wing and chip a cross in for Ashley Merrill. Baylor’s star could not put her header on goal though. That was Baylor’s best scoring chance of the second half.

After that Texas was back in the Baylor box quickly. A cross made its way through all the tiring defenders and to a wide-open Missimo toward the top of the box. She doesn’t miss often and she was on target for her 12th goal of the year. 3-0 Texas.

Texas capped off the night with a fourth goal when Ashlyn Miller sent a shot from the top left of the Baylor box in and Zirkel went for the catch. The ball slipped through the Baylor keeper’s hands and bounced agonizingly into the goal. 4-0 Texas.

The scoreline is it a tough look for the Bears, but there was no huge skill gap between the squads. Texas has more talent but not overwhelmingly so.

Tactically, there were shortcomings for the Green-and-Gold. 

“We needed to control the space more and we were conceding way too much space,” Coach Lenard said after the game.

While the inexperience and nerves of a young Baylor roster are easy to see at the root of the shortcomings in execution, they are notable problems in and of themselves. 

“Overall I think it was just a mental collapse,” said Lenard, “Another example of maybe some inexperience and some youth. We need better leadership in these moments and we’re going to have some hard conversations with our leadership this week because they were … silent.”

Hopefully, the Bears can set themselves on the right path quickly as conference play just began today.

Perhaps luckily, the Bears play their final non-conference game Sunday against UTSA (6 PM CST in Waco) before welcoming No. 1 BYU to Betty Lou Mayes Field next Thursday.

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