SAN ANTONIO, Texas -
To claim the first Big 12 Championship title and the second conference trophy in program history, the 14th-ranked and second-seeded Baylor soccer team never trailed in a 4-1 victory over eighth-seeded TCU on Sunday at Blossom Soccer Stadium.
"I am just so proud of these girls," head coach Marci Jobson said. "They have sacrificed so much to get to this point. We don't have this team of amazing superstars. We just have a bunch of girls that work hard, believe and love each other. That is what makes this moment special."
The Bears (17-1-4) improved to 8-0 all-time vs. the Horned Frogs (7-10-4) and tied a program record with their 17th victory on the season.
The 2012 squad joins the 1998 team as Big 12 title winners. The 1998 team earned the conference's record-season crown with a 9-0-1 mark in league play. That title was the first Big 12 title for Baylor as an athletic department. With the win, BU claimed its 45th league crown.
The Bears once again scored first for the third straight game in San Antonio and for the seventh game overall.
Defender Selby Polley netted her first goal of the season in the 21st minute. Following a drive to the top of the 18-yard box by Dana Larsen, the senior slipped off a pass to Polley, who ripped a shot from 20-yards out to the far corner of the net.
"I told Selby, before the game, `You are going to be a senior next year. You have to step up and be a leader. I need a little bit extra from you today,'" Jobson said. "She provided that little bit extra and more with a great goal."
Despite a couple more scoring chances, including back-to-back shots from Lisa Sliwinski and Hanna Gilmore from close range in the 22nd-minute that were both turned away by TCU goalkeeper Vittoria Arnold, the Bears would only tally the one goal in the period.
Baylor goalkeeper Michelle Kloss made sure it was a 1-0 lead at halftime as she made a high-pressure save in the 38th-minute. As TCU midfielder Madeline Hamm made a free run up the left side, Kloss came off of her line and made a diving save 10-yards out.
In the second-half, the Bears extended their lead to 2-0 in the 54th-minute. After a BU corner kick, the ball was cleared out to Vic Hoffman. The junior re-centered the ball to Larsen, who ripped off two quick shots with the rebound coming back to her each time. Instead of trying another shot, Larsen dropped off a pass to Gilmore, who rocketed in the opportunity to the far post from three-yards out.
For Larsen, it was her second game at the Big 12 Championship to record two assists. The senior forward had one goal and four assists over three games in San Antonio to capture the event's Offensive Most Valuable Player Award. She joins Courtney Saunders as the only Baylor players to be recognized with an MVP award at the Big 12 Championship.
The Bears seemed poised to take the contest in 2-0 shutout fashion, but in the 76th-minute TCU notched a goal to cut the lead in half. Defender Monica Alvarado made a run down the right side and crossed the ball over to Lindsy Schafer, who headed in her second goal of the year.
"We were starting to die and we were running players in and out," Jobson said. "I really believed that if we could just run our players in and go through our rotations, we were going to wear them down. At some point we just broke them and it was awesome."
The Horned Frog goal caused the Baylor offensive to ratchet up its pressure once again. Less than six minutes after TCU trimmed the deficit, Gilmore netted her second goal of the contest to push the advantage to 3-1. After scoring from close range on her first goal, the senior tallied her sixth of the season in the 82nd-minute from the top of the 18-yard box into the upper right side of the goal.
For insurance, Larissa Campos added a goal 18 second later on an assist from Gilmore. The score came from well outside the 18-yard box as Campos blasted in the chance to seal the BU victory.
BU had a flurry of activity in the game's first three minutes. Larsen just missed a diving header attempt from a Hoffman cross and Gilmore's shot sailed high, in a one-on-one opportunity.
Baylor kept the pressure up in the first half as Gilmore set up a chance for Kat Ludlow in the 19th-minute, but the junior's attempt glanced off the crossbar.
For the game, Baylor outshot TCU 28-9 with Gilmore leading the way with seven shots.
With her two goals and one assist, the Spring, Texas-product is the first Baylor player to net five points in a game this season.
After playing 90 minutes in goal, Kloss improved to 17-1-4, while making two saves.
Prior to the 2012 season, Baylor players had been recognized six times on the Big 12 All-Tournament team. This season, four different players earned the accolade - Gilmore, Larsen, Ludlow and Sliwinski.
The Bears will now gather on Monday afternoon at 3:30 p.m. to watch the NCAA Selection Show. Fans are encouraged to join the team in the Ferrell Center's Stone Room for the event.
Game Notes: The Bears are now unbeaten in their last 18 games and have won six straight...With the 17 wins Baylor tied the inaugural Baylor team in 1996, which boasted a 17-3-1 record, for the most in program history...After three wins this years, Baylor's Big 12 Championship record is 7-8-1...Prior to the 2012 season, Baylor never won more than one game at the event in a single year.