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Baylor Soccer

Cincinnati Steals Late Goal, Draws Baylor Soccer 2-2

October 12, 2023

WACO, Texas — Baylor Soccer (8-5-3, 3-3-2) drew with the visiting Cincinnati Bearcats (3-6-6, 2-2-4) by a scoreline of 2-2 thanks to an 86th-minute equalizer from Sarah Kate Rath for the visitors.

Baylor overcame an early 1-0 deficit on this Senior Night by answering the Bearcats’ 14th-minute goal with strikes from Ashley Merrill just before halftime and Callie Conrad in the 70th minute to build a 2-1 lead.

The Bears were four minutes away from earning their fourth win in a row — a streak of potentially as many games as the team won all of last season — but the team will have to settle for only a fifth game unbeaten in a row.

The Bears started slow in the match, letting Cincinnati dominate possession and keep the ball in the Baylor half for the first 15 minutes. 

“I think we were making silly mistakes,” said Baylor leading scorer Ashley Merrill, “That happens when you’re not ready the first 15… once we got in our groove… then we started dominating the game.”

Sadly for the Bears, they allowed a goal in those first fifteen. Cincinnati — a team who has not scored much on the season — scored in one of the ways they know best: a set piece.

The Bearcats sent a great corner kick across the goal to the far post, where Ashley Barron rose up and nodded a header home as she drifted backward in the air. 1-0 Cincinnati.

Perhaps the goal served as a bit of a wake-up call for the home team because their attack came to life soon after.

Graduate Student Jenna Patterson — playing her final game at Betty Lou Mayes field — got the shots rolling in with an effort on goal in the 20th minute. Freshman Salma Simonin followed that up in the 23rd minute with a shot off the crossbar.

There were another handful of decent Baylor chances before the equalizer was finally found. 

With under a minute left in the half and freshman sub-Theresa McCullough putting in a great shift down the right wing, Callie Conrad was able to control the ball and send a chipped cross into the box. 

Ashley Merrill poured on it at the far post and slowed the ball home from just outside the corner of the six-yard box. 1-1.

It was an important goal for more than just the scoreline. A fruitless half of hard work can affect team mentality in a big way sometimes.

“We needed it to switch the momentum into our favor,” said Merrill after the game, “Going into the second half [the goal] shifted the momentum to us.”

The second was a sort of mirror of the first, with the Bears dominating out of the gate before Cincinnati made their dent late in the half.

Tyler Isgrig worked a good shot that forced the Bearcats’ keeper into a tip save over her own crossbar in the 65th minute.

Then in the 70th minute, Callie Conrad got herself on the end of a Jenna Patterson cross inside the 18-yard box. Conrad calmly got the ball out from under her feet and beat the keeper with a shot across the goal into the left side netting. 2-1 Baylor.

The Green-and-Gold did not hunker down from here. That is not what they are best at, nor what they want to do. They kept attacking. 

Subs Skylar Zinnecker and Adriana Merriam created some great chances including Zinnecker headers that forced two goal line saves.

The first of those came with about five minutes left and was immediately followed by Cincinnati winning a cheap free kick in the Baylor half after clearing Zinnecker’s chance.

That free kick would be knocked toward goal, shot off of Baylor keeper Makinzie Short and fall for Sarah Kate Rath to cooly net the tying goal with 4:20 to play.

Perhaps Short could have laid her body completely on the line to smother the whole chance, but that is a split-second decision that is tough to hold against a keeper.

“We had the better of play in the second half,” said Baylor head coach Michelle Lenard after the game, “But they are a dangerous, counter-attacking team that is good on set plays and we knew that going in. And we gave up two goals on set plays.”

The refs did play a bigger role than any would like in the outcome tonight, but the cheap and inconsistent foul call to give Cincinnati the free kick was just one part of the frustration with the officiating. 

Zinnecker’s second header and the Bearcat’s second goal line save came with one minute left on the clock. The keeper was beaten and a Bearcat defender, standing in the goal, punted the ball away as it was crossing the line. 

Now, by rule, the whole ball has to cross the whole line. And Betty Lou Mayes Field does not have video review and a review may have been inconclusive anyway. 

So Zinnecker did not make it onto the scorers' sheet tonight and the Bears could not find a last-minute winner.

“We’ve got to bury that in the back of the net so far that there is no questions,” Coach Lenard said, “It’s very frustrating. I felt like we did not deserve to tie that game, felt like we deserved to win it.”

To be clear, her frustrations after the game were towards the refs who she thoroughly earned a yellow card from in the handshake line of having and animated talk with them.

Now the Bears must clear the frustration and prepare for a trip to play a TCU team that has lost just once in Big 12 play.

Not to be forgotten in the heat of the moment or the final stretch of the season, Makinzie Short and Jenna Patterson were honored after the game like Madison Martin was last week. The trio are the only Bears who are out of eligibility at the end of the season and will not be able to return to the team next year.

WotM — Callie Conrad — She scored, she created, and she was all over the field.

Up Next — at TCU Sunday, October 15th at 1 PM CST (ESPN+)

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Cincinnati Steals Late Goal, Draws Baylor Soccer 2-2

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