By Jerry Hill
Baylor Bear Foundation
Baylor soccer's redemption tour, which carried the 23rd-ranked Bears (13-5-2) to a Big 12 Championship title last Sunday, continues with a matchup against the Rice Owls (12-3-2) at 5 p.m. Friday at Betty Lou Mays Field.
The first-round game in the NCAA Championship is a rematch of an Aug. 24 game in Houston that ended in a scoreless draw. Baylor is 5-0-3 all-time against the Owls, with four of the last seven matchups going to overtime.
"We feel like a lot of games kind of slipped away, games we know we could have won, games we could have finished a little better," sophomore forward Raegan Padgett said. "I'm just ready to get out there and see if we can put some goals away. We're excited to get another chance."
In a game that was moved up a day because of the impending Hurricane Harvey, Baylor out-shot Rice, 18-11, in that earlier meeting. But, the names and faces have changed so much in the last 2 ½ months that you can almost toss that one out.
"The teams are totally different. I know we are, for sure," said Baylor coach Paul Jobson, who has a different goalkeeper, changes at both forward spots and a completely reshuffled back line. "Just the number of games we've played, the experience we have, your young players stepping up. We had some players we were holding out earlier on. . . . But, we've got film on each other, so there are no surprises."
Since this will be the sixth time the two teams have met in the last nine years, it's very much like facing a conference opponent, Jobson said. "There aren't any secrets or surprises."
"They're an athletic team. They're physical, they're tough, they move the ball really, really well.," he said. "They're really well-coached, they're going to be organized."
Following that matchup with Baylor, Rice had its next three games postponed or canceled before reeling off a school-record 10-game unbeaten streak (9-0-1) and winning the Conference USA regular-season title.
While Baylor boasts a program-record three first-team All-Big 12 honorees in midfielders Aline De Lima and Julie James and center back Precious Akanyirige, Rice claimed three of the major awards on the C-USA team with Samantha Chaiken repeating as Midfielder of the Year, Maya Hoyer being named Goalkeeper of the Year and Nicky Adams as Coach of the Year.
Chaiken and fellow senior Nia Stallings, another first-team all-conference pick, lead the offense with eight goals apiece. Rice ranks seventh nationally, averaging 2.59 goals per game.
The Owls ended conference play with a 1-1 tie at North Texas, though, and then got tripped up by eighth-seeded Charlotte, 1-0, at last week's C-USA Championship in Boca Raton, Fla.
So, momentum is definitely on the Bears' side. They avenged three regular-season overtime losses with wins over 14th-ranked Texas (2-1, OT), 16th-ranked Oklahoma State (3-0) and TCU (2-1, OT) to bring home the program's third conference title overall and second tournament championship in the last six years.
"Winning the Big 12 tournament in itself was just amazing," Padgett said. "I think it's going to give us a lot of confidence. Being able to accomplish a goal we set - every day, we say we want to be Big 12 champions, and that's finally what we are. But, nothing's changed. The way we work has not changed. The way we practice and prepare has not changed. We're going to prepare for this game just like any other game."
This one is different, though. It's in the NCAA tournament, with the winner advancing to a regional next weekend and a matchup against either third-seeded USC or Eastern Washington.
Baylor is 3-3-1 all-time in the NCAA Championship, advancing to the Sweet 16 five years ago with wins over Arizona State and Georgetown before a 1-1 draw and penalty-kick loss to eventual national champion North Carolina. This is Rice's fourth NCAA tournament appearance after shutout losses to Illinois (2-0, 2004), California (2-0, 2005) and Texas (3-0, 2014).
Jobson said playing at home, where the Bears are 6-2 this season, is definitely an advantage.
"The girls missed an entire week of school last week. So, for them to be able to catch up, that's always a concern of theirs," he said. "They're great students, so them being able to catch up with school and be in class and be able to sleep in their own beds . . . and then selfishly for me, to be able to be with my kids up until game time is a lot of fun. Just the familiarity of being at home.
"When you think you're done playing here, and especially for those seniors, they've got another opportunity to play in front of our fans that have been so great this year. We hope to bring another great victory for them as well."
A live video stream for Friday's game will be available at www.baylorbears.com/allaccess.
Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for youth and children and free for Baylor students with an ID.
WACO, Texas - No. 23 Baylor soccer (13-5-2, 4-4-1 Big 12) opens its run in the 2017 NCAA Division I Women's Soccer Championship, hosting the Rice Owls (12-3-2, 9-0-1 C-USA) for another rematch from the regular season on Friday, Nov. 10, at 5 p.m. at Betty Lou Mays Soccer Field.
The Bears will play the program's first NCAA postseason match since 2012, the year the BU squad advanced all the way to the Sweet 16. Betty Lou Mays Field is hosting its first NCAA match since 2011, when the Bears knocked off Texas State, 3-0, in the opening round of the tournament.
Baylor holds the advantage in the all-time series with the Owls, leading 5-0-3. The two squads met in Houston back on Aug. 24, fighting out to a 0-0 draw in double overtime.
Continuing a trend started with a 3-0 sweep of the Big 12 Soccer Championship field - all three over teams the Bears fell to in the regular season - BU will look to notch another revenge win after the missed opportunity in Houston, one in which Baylor led 18-11 on shots and 8-4 in shots on goal.
Friday's match will feature a free, online video stream on BaylorBears.com. BU has also continued a partnership with La Mejor Waco (106.1 FM) to offer a Spanish radio simulcast of all Baylor soccer home matches.
For live scoring, all updates and an inside look at the program, follow @BaylorFutbol on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Fri., Nov. 10 vs. Texas @ 5 p.m. CT
Betty Lou Mays Field
#23 BAYLOR BEARS
2017 Record: 13-5-2
2017 Big 12 Record: 4-4-1
Head Coach: Paul Jobson
Career: 34-18-7 (3rd season)
BU: 34-18-7 (3rd season)
2017 Record: 12-3-2
2017 C-USA Record: 9-0-1
Head Coach: Nicky Adams
Career: 68-44-20 (7th season)
Rice: 68-44-20 (7th season)
Series: BU leads, 5-0-3
First Meeting: Sept. 21, 2001
BU won 3-1 in Waco
Last Meeting: Aug. 24, 2017
Tied 0-0 (2OT) in Houston
Jobson vs Rice: 0-0-1
BAYLOR QUICK NOTES
* Baylor returns to the NCAA Tournament field for the first time since 2012, hosting a postseason match at Betty Lou for the first time since 2011. The Bears are 3-3-1 all-time in NCAA tourney play.
* Baylor's last trip to postseason was also the program's most successful, with the 2012 squad winning two matches, landing in the Sweet 16 before tying North Carolina and allowing the Tarheels to advance on penalty kicks.
* Baylor won the program's second Big 12 Championship title, knocking off No. 14 Texas and No. 16 Oklahoma State before downing TCU for the conference tournament title. Aline De Lima earned the tourney's Offensive MVP honors after scoring two goals and four assists over the three matches.
* Baylor's wins over No. 14 Texas and No. 16 Oklahoma State were the first back-to-back wins over ranked opponents since 1997.
* Baylor has now had 10 or more wins in 11 of its 22 seasons as a program, six of the last eight, and two-straight under third-year head coach Paul Jobson. The 13 wins for BU is the most since the 2012 squad set a program record with 19 wins.
* Baylor has had at least eight wins in, now, nine straight seasons and has won or advanced by shootout in at least one match at the Big 12 Championship 10 times in 15 appearances, including six in a row.
* Baylor had four total Big 12 postseason honors, including three All-Big 12 first team selections, the most ever in a single-season for the program. Aline De Lima, Precious Akanyirige, and Julie James earned the all-conference honors, while Jennifer Wandt was named the top freshman GK on the Big 12 All-Freshman team.
* Baylor set a program record and led the Big 12 with 17 Academic All-Big 12 selections, with all 17 earning first team honors. BU has had 10+ selections for 11-straight seasons.
* Junior midfielder Julie James was Baylor's lone representative on the 2017 Preseason All-Big 12 Team after being named 2016 All-Big 12 and NSCAA All-Region.
* From July 23-26, a group of current and former Baylor soccer student-athletes served on a mission trip to Guatemala alongside Baylor FCA. The mission team served the children of Guatemala City and shared the love of Christ through the game of soccer.