By Jerry Hill
Baylor Bear Foundation
Venturing into unchartered territory, the 23rd-ranked Baylor soccer team (15-5-3) will face the third-ranked Duke Blue Devils (22-2-0) at 4 p.m. CDT Friday in Durham, N.C., for a berth in next week's Women's College Cup in Orlando, Fla.
"When I look back at 2012, I wish we had enjoyed the moments a little more when we were there," coach Paul Jobson said of the Bears' only previous trip to the Sweet 16, when they lost a penalty-kick shootout after a 1-1 draw with eventual national champion North Carolina. "We've really tried to embrace these moments the last couple of weeks, knowing it's not a given. It's hard to win championships, it's hard to win games, and we want to enjoy that."
Baylor's incredible postseason run included wins over nationally ranked Texas and Oklahoma State en route to winning the Big 12 Championship, a home-field victory over Rice, eliminating defending national champion USC on a penalty-kick shootout and a 3-2 overtime win over Notre Dame.
"I think that's a big difference on our team is they're not shocked by anything," Jobson said. "If we're up by a goal or two or down by a goal or two, they're fighting till the final whistle. It's not over until that final whistle is blown or penalty kicks or whatever it's going to take to get us through."
The Bears have had several players step up in postseason play, with tournament MVP Aline De Lima scoring two goals and assisting on the other one in a 3-0 win over OSU; Lauren Piercy scoring the golden goal in a 2-1 OT victory over TCU in the Big 12 final; Sarah King netting the equalizer in the last 16 seconds of regulation and the clincher in the penalty-kick shootout victory over USC; and Precious Akanyirige scoring the golden goal to beat Notre Dame.
"As a defender, sometimes you don't get the recognition you deserve," Jobson said of Akanyirige, a first-team All-Big 12 pick this year as a defender. "But, for her to be able to put a goal in like that, I think it's just a special moment that she'll always look back and remember through her career."
In Baylor's first-ever Elite Eight appearance, the Bears get a Duke team that blitzed through a pair of Big 12 teams last weekend, shutting out Oklahoma State (7-0) and Texas (3-0). Earlier this season, the Blue Devils also shut out then-No. 3 West Virginia, 4-0, in Morgantown.
"I think our season has really prepared us for this," Jobson said. "We played three top-25 teams within our conference, had to beat two ranked teams to win a Big 12 Championship and then had to knock off two great teams - defending national champion USC and a perennial powerhouse in Notre Dame - this weekend. Our team has seen the best of the best. I think the awe factor of playing a nationally recognized program should be out the window."
Duke is trying to advance to the Women's College Cup for the fourth time in program history and first since 2011. While De Lima leads the Bears with seven goals and eight assists, Imani Dorsey and Kayla McCoy have 13 goals apiece.
"They move the ball really well - north, south, east, west - they move the ball really well, and they're really comfortable with the ball at their feet," Jobson said. "They're comfortable under pressure. They're just a quality team from top to bottom."
Friday's match will be streamed live on ESPN3.com and WatchESPN.app, with live stats available at www.GoDuke.com/wsoccer.
DURHAM, N.C. - No. 23 Baylor soccer (15-5-3, 4-4-1 Big 12) has already advanced further than any team in program history, playing in the Elite 8 round of the NCAA Women's Soccer Championship. But the team is not done yet, looking to advance to the Women's College Cup with a win over No. 3 Duke (22-2-0, 10-0-0 ACC) on Friday, Nov. 24, at 4:00 p.m. CT/5:00 p.m. ET at Koskinen Stadium.
The Bears are the lone unseeded team remaining in this year's tournament field and a win over the Blue Devils would mark the first time since 2003 that an unseeded team advanced into the College Cup (Connecticut).
Baylor had a phenomenal weekend in the College Station regional rounds, knocking off defending national champion USC on penalty kicks and then a golden goal win over Notre Dame.
The Blue Devils picked apart two of Baylor's Big 12 counterparts, taking down Oklahoma State, 7-0, and Texas, 3-0, en route to the fourth round of the tournament.
Baylor faces the Blue Devils for the first time since 1998, a match Baylor won, 4-0, in Durham.
Friday's match will be live streamed on ESPN3.com and the WatchESPN app.
For live scoring, all updates and an inside look at the program, follow @BaylorFutbol on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Fri., Nov. 24 at Duke @ 4 p.m. CT / 5 p.m. ET
Koskinen Stadium (Durham, N.C.)
Video: ESPN3.com and WatchESPN app
#23 BAYLOR BEARS
2017 Record: 15-5-3
2017 Big 12 Record: 4-4-1
Head Coach: Paul Jobson
Career: 36-18-8 (3rd season)
BU: 36-18-8 (3rd season)
#3 DUKE BLUE DEVILS
2017 Record: 22-2-0
2017 ACC Record: 10-0-0
Head Coach: Robbie Church
Career: 401-232-59 (31st season)
Duke: 218-118-45 (17th season)
Series: BU leads, 1-0-0
First Meeting: Aug. 25, 1998
BU won, 4-0, in Durham
Last Meeting: Aug. 25, 1998
BU won, 4-0, in Durham
Jobson vs Duke: Never met
BAYLOR QUICK NOTES
* Baylor advanced to the Elite 8 round of NCAA play for the first time in program history. A win over the Blue Devils would move the Bears into the final four, marking the first time since 2003 that an unseeded team advanced into the College Cup (Connecticut).
* Baylor has already played in a program-record 12 overtime games this season, going 5-4-3 in OT matches. In its most recent extra time match, the Bears notched a golden goal in the first OT period to down Notre Dame.
* A win over the Blue Devils would be the program's second-ever win over a top-5 opponent, the first since an unranked Baylor squad beat No. 3 Texas A&M on Oct. 12, 1997 in Waco, 2-1 (OT).
* Baylor has gone to PK's in five matches in program history, including both Big 12 Championship and NCAA tournament play. BU has advanced three times, twice in the Big 12 tournament (2011, 2015) and once in NCAA play (2017). The Bears fell short once each in NCAA (2012) and Big 12 (2014) tourney play.
* Baylor is on a six-match unbeaten streak, winning five matches and tying USC before advancing on PK's.
* Lauren Piercy has either scored or assisted on six of Baylor's seven goals in NCAA play.
* Baylor won the program's second Big 12 Championship tournament title, knocking off No. 14 Texas and No. 16 Oklahoma State before downing TCU for the conference trophy. Aline De Lima earned the tourney's Offensive MVP honors after scoring two goals and four assists over the three matches.
* 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 15 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.
* 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.