Defending Division II Class AA state champion Baylor honored its five soccer seniors during Tuesday night’s match with Chattanooga Christian.
For two Red Raiders, senior night was even more meaningful.
Ramsey Seagle and Jeff Shibata have played together for Baylor since eighth grade, and helped the Red Raiders earn a 2-0 victory in one of the final home matches of their impressive careers.
“Those seniors have been through everything here,” coach Curtis Blair said. “Their eighth and ninth grade years we were not very good, but they stuck with it and stuck with the program. One of their goals was to help turn the program around, and I think they’ve done a great job with that.
“Even though we won state last year, I think a lot of people still counted us out this year, but those guys have come back and been good leaders for us. They’re helping the younger guys understand what our region’s about and how hard it is.”
Baylor, ranked fourth this year in D-II AA, started out with a goal in the 13th minute against CCS, the state’s No. 3 Class A/AA team. Seagle scored with an assist from Austin Rehm, and about three minutes later, George Petway connected on a ball from Kyle Johnston to put the Red Raiders up 2-0.
Although pleased with Baylor’s performance in the first half, Blair said he watched his team become complacent in the final 40 minutes.
“I thought we played very well in the first half,” he said. “I thought we came out and sort of set the standard for the rest of the game. But I was disappointed in the second half. I think we came out with the mentality of being up 2-0 instead of the mentality of we’re going to go out and put teams away. I thought we tried to play safe, when instead we should be trying to continue to go forward and put teams away.”
Despite fewer offensive opportunities in the second half, the Baylor defense held the 2-0 lead and improved the Red Raiders’ record to 12-2-3. They hope the win against a tough Chargers team will provide a boost as they travel to face Father Ryan on Friday in a key D-II Mid-East Region matchup.
“CCS is always good,” Blair said. “You know they’re always going to come out organized and ready to play, and they were tonight. We were worried about trying to keep everyone healthy for a big region game on Friday. Plus it was senior night, so we were worried about them being too excited and not really settling down and playing.”
Friday’s game will determine whether Baylor will claim the No. 2 seeding and a first-round bye for the upcoming state tournament, or a No. 3 spot with a first-round match on May 11.
“The good part is we’re healthy right now,” Blair said. “At this point in the season, you at least want that. I feel like we could still play better, but we’re at least playing okay as we go into Friday.”
(E-mail Jaime Barrett at email@example.com)