SAN ANTONIO, Texas -
With a 2-1 victory over third-seeded Texas Tech on Friday night at Blossom Soccer Stadium, the 14th-ranked and second-seeded Baylor soccer team advanced to the first Big 12 Championship final in program history.
"The fact that we are in the Big 12 Championship final has not totally hit me yet," head coach Marci Jobson said. "I am just really proud of our effort tonight. We weathered some big storms and held our ground."
For a second straight match in San Antonio, the Bears (16-1-4) started quickly, before finishing strong to knock off the Red Raiders (15-5-1).
Baylor got on the board with its earliest goal of the season as Hanna Gilmore notched her fourth score of the year, just 3:36 into the game. Following a cross from Kat Ludlow that was punched out of the six-yard by Texas Tech goalkeeper Victoria Esson, Gilmore gathered in the rebound. The senior midfielder placed a shot from the top of the 18-yard box that sliced past a diving Esson.
"I thought Hanna had a great game," Jobson said. "She has been a great leader on and off the field. Tonight, she had a lot of fight and was a leader out there for us."
For Gilmore, it was her fourth goal of the season and first since Sept. 23.
Texas Tech answered 17 minutes later in almost the same fashion. Baylor goalkeeper Michelle Kloss made a punch save that found its way out to Red Raider midfielder Tiffi Smith. Smith headed back the ball from 23 yards out. The shot snuck over Kloss' outstretched hand and under the crossbar. The goal ended a streak of 311 minutes of shutout soccer for the Bears, who hadn't given up a goal in three games.
"After Tech's goal I thought we got a little down and we had to remind our girls at halftime to keep fighting," Jobson said. "We understood that this was a team that was going to fight like crazy and we knew we had to weather the storm."
Baylor and Texas Tech went to double overtime during the regular season and Friday's contest appeared headed for extra time as well. However, senior Lisa Sliwinski's ninth goal of the season in the 79th-minute gave BU the lead again.
A throw-in from Kat Ludlow started the scoring opportunity. The junior's throw bounced into the six-yard box, before ending up at the feet of Vic Hoffman. The junior ripped a shot from two-yards out that deflected off of a Esson and trickled over to Sliwinski. The senior sent the ball into the net with a swift kick from four-yards out.
"I was psyched we executed on that throw," Jobson said. "It was great that Lisa could put that away."
Sliwinski now has nine goals on the season to claim sole possession of fourth place on Baylor's all-time scoring list with 29 career goals.
The Red Raiders came close to tying the game twice in the final 10 minutes, but both attempts sailed high of the crossbar.
Texas Tech outshot Baylor 15-12 in the game. It is only the second time this season that BU has been outshot in a game. Hoffman led the way for the Bears with four shots, while Sliwinski had three and Gilmore had two.
Kloss improved to 16-1-4 in goal for Baylor by making three saves in 90 minutes of work.
Baylor had made five previous trips to the event's semifinal round with all ending in losses.
The Bears will now face eighth-seeded TCU on Sunday at 1 p.m. with a Big 12 title on the line. The match will be broadcast on FSN. Big12Sports.com will provide live stats for the match. For in-game updates follow @BaylorFutbol on Twitter.
"TCU is a hot team right now," Jobson said. "It doesn't matter what we have done in the past against them. This is their chance to get a NCAA bid and they are going to come out ready to play. What is going to matter is our ability to recover and execute properly.
Game Notes: The Bears are now unbeaten in their last 17 games and have won five-straight...Baylor is now 6-8-1 all-time at the Big 12 Championship...Seven of the last eight games vs. Texas Tech have been one-goal games...BU improves to 13-4-1 against the Red Raiders, while Jobson is 3-2-1...Baylor's 16 wins on the season are the second most in program history (17, 1996).