By Jerry Hill
Baylor Bear Foundation
After getting left out of the NCAA Tournament last year, Baylor soccer coach Paul Jobson's message before the start of this season was, "Don't leave it up to a committee to make a decision."
On Sunday, the Bears (13-5-2) took it out of the selection committee's hands, defeating TCU, 2-1, on Lauren Piercy's golden goal in the first overtime period to win the program's second Big 12 Championship title in the last six years and earn the league's automatic bid.
"Oh man, we can't do anything easy," Jobson said. "They've got to keep us on pins and needles, right? I couldn't be more excited for these girls. I know the work they've put in this year, on and off the field, to make this happen. I'm just really proud of them."
Baylor completed its redemption tour at the Big 12 Championship in Kansas City, Mo., avenging overtime losses in the regular season to 14th-ranked Texas, No. 16 Oklahoma State and the third-seeded Horned Frogs (12-5-3).
"Honestly, it was redemption week," said Piercy, who scored her second goal of the tournament, fourth of the season and 17th of her career. "I can't even describe the feeling. I think I'm still in shock that this even happened."
The NCAA Tournament selections will be announced at 3:30 p.m. Monday with an online stream at www.ncaa.com. But, just like their last appearance when they advanced to the Sweet 16, the Bears don't have anything to sweat except where they're headed.
"I'm super excited to know that we're in, no matter what," said Jobson, whose team had a No. 55 RPI ranking going into the week but should jump into the 30s with the three tournament wins. "I told them, `Flash back to the talk we had before the season started. We said we didn't want to leave it up to a committee to make a decision.' And we did that."
Just like the first two games of the tournament, Baylor dominated the attack, out-shooting TCU 8-0 in the first half and finishing with decisive edges in shots (17-10) and shots on goal (11-3). All-Big 12 goalkeeper Katie Lund kept the Horned Frogs in it, coming up with nine saves.
TCU had won its first two tournament games on penalty kicks after double-overtime draws against Kansas and sixth-ranked West Virginia. "We knew they were tired, and we decided to take advantage of that," Piercy said.
After some near-misses and great saves by Lund, the Bears finally broke through in the 69th minute, when tournament MVP Aline De Lima made a push up the right side and rifled a cross into the box.
When the ball just missed Camryn Wendlandt's foot, junior forward Kennedy Brown got it on the left side of the box and knocked it into the right back corner of the net past a diving Lund for the 1-0 lead.
It was the second goal of the season and career for Brown, who had played in only four games combined in the previous two seasons and wasn't even traveling at the start of the year.
"What you've got to look at is you lose a key player (Jackie Crowther) early in the season, and somebody has to step up. Somebody has to be ready," Jobson said. "If you guys knew this kid's story and where she's been with us, from not traveling, to finally traveling, to all of a sudden she's a starter playing almost 9 minutes and scoring a big-time goal in the Big 12 Championship.
"It's just another great story that this team has to write. God has done some amazing things for these players this year. She's just another example of that."
TCU started pushing numbers forward and got off several of their 10 second-half shots in the last 20 minutes, but it looked like Baylor's lead would hold up until senior defender Precious Akanyirige was called for a hand ball in the penalty box.
Ryan Williams, who got the clinching goal against West Virginia in the 5-3 penalty-kick edge, buried the penalty kick into the right corner of the net to knot the game at 1-1 with just under four minutes to play in regulation.
"The worst thing that could happen is their heads can go down, and they could feel dejected. And they had every right to feel that way," Jobson said. "But again, they showed their resiliency and they showed their veteran mentality and fought through it and found the victory."
Going to overtime for the 10th time this season and eighth against a conference opponent, the Bears wasted no time.
Just into the fourth minute of overtime, De Lima had a clear run down the middle and crossed it over to Piercy on the left side. Getting past the TCU back line, Piercy drove her right-footed shot off of Lund as the ball deflected off the goalkeeper and into the back left of the corner for the golden goal.
"Me and Aline kind of slightly made eye contact, and I knew she was going to play the through ball," Piercy said. "So, I just started running and got behind their back line and just decided to calm down and finish the shot. Honestly, I don't even know how to describe it. It went in, and I just started screaming."
"(De Lima) draws attention, and she's able to dish balls off to other people and let them do what they need to do," Jobson said. "The great thing is we've got girls that can step up and do that. And we saw that today."
Baylor will make its fifth all-time NCAA Tournament appearance and third of the Jobson era. Marci Jobson, Paul's wife, was the head coach when the Bears made their last postseason appearances in 2011 and 2012.
"It's just the mentality we've had for most of the season," Paul said. "That can't be something that changes when we get to the NCAA Tournament. Every game we've played is like a championship match because of what we play for. We play for God and we play for each other, and that doesn't change no matter what logos are on the field or if there's a trophy at the end of it."
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Baylor soccer (13-5-2, 4-4-1 Big 12) clinched the program's second-ever tournament title, defeating TCU (12-5-3, 6-2-1 Big 12), 2-1, with a golden goal in the 94th minute on Sunday afternoon at Swope Soccer Village.
After dominating the scoreless first period, leading 8-0 in shots, the Bears cracked through with the first goal in the 69th minute. Aline De Lima pushed up the right side of the field, crossing in to a sprinting Camryn Wendlandt and Kennedy Brown in the box. The ball just missed Wendlandt's foot, continuing across to Brown, who punched a shot from the left side of the box into the right back corner of the net.
As the second period continued to wind down, the Frogs were gifted a penalty kick on a hand ball in the box by the Bears, with TCU tying the match in the 87th minute.
With BU unable to take the lead in regulation, the team's transitioned into the first overtime period.
In the 94th, Lauren Piercy got away from the TCU backline, going one-on-one with goalkeeper Katie Lund. Piercy drove her shot off of Lund, spinning away and into the back left corner of the net, giving BU the golden goal and the conference title.
*Baylor notched the program's second conference title, repeating its 2012 win over TCU to take home the Big 12 tournament trophy.
*Baylor completed a 3-0 sweep of the Big 12 Soccer Championship, with all three wins avenging overtime losses in the regular season.
*Baylor senior midfielder Aline De Lima was named the Big 12 Soccer Championship Offensive Most Outstanding Player, the third BU player to earn the honor (Courtney Saunders, 1996, and Dana Larsen, 2012).
*Baylor had five selections to the Big 12 Soccer Championship All-Tournament team, including Precious Akanyirige (defender), Sarah King (defender), Aline De Lima (midfielder), Julie James (midfielder), and Lauren Piercy (forward).
*Baylor earned the Big 12's automatic qualifier bid to the NCAA tournament, the first postseason berth for the team since 2012.
STAT OF THE MATCH
8 -- the number of points scored by Aline De Lima in the tournament, leading all players with two goals and four assists in the three matches.
Baylor will wait to find out its seeding for the NCAA Tournament after earning the automatic bid, with the Division I Women's Soccer NCAA Tournament Selection show scheduled for Monday, Nov. 6, at 3:30 p.m., on NCAA.com.