Baylor Advances To DII-AA Soccer Quarterfinals

Lady Raiders Edge Hutchison, 1-0, For Win

Saturday, October 23, 2021 - by Joseph Dycus
Baylor's Melissa Oliviera dribbles against Hutchison. The Lady Raiders advanced to the DII-AA State Quarterfinals with Saturday's, 1-0, win.
Baylor's Melissa Oliviera dribbles against Hutchison. The Lady Raiders advanced to the DII-AA State Quarterfinals with Saturday's, 1-0, win.
- photo by Joseph Dycus

A great ball from Elizabeth Stophel got Melissa Oliveira the ball in open space, a rarity in Baylor’s 1-0 win over Hutchison. Oliveira drove into the box and blasted a shot past the keeper, giving Baylor the lead a few minutes after the start of the second half. For a Red Raiders side that had been trudging along for the better part of 40 minutes, that was just the spark they needed to advance in the playoffs.

 

“I feel like Elizabeth should get recognized, because she got us the assist that helped us win the game,” defender Aliyah Cooper said.

“She did amazing. She hustled the whole time and I’m really proud of her.”

 

Defenders like Cooper don’t usually rack up statistics, at least at the high school level. Aside from a rare goal on a set piece or an assist on a long-ball up to a forward, a player on the back-line has few metrics they can point to that show how effective they are. For most defensive players, a “zero” under the opponent’s score is the only evidence of a job well done.  

 

The game was defined by physicality, and fouls both called and uncalled. Neither team wanted to give an inch, and every pass, dribble, and move was contested by defenders like Cooper and Evie Culbreath. Hutchison figured the best way to limit Baylor’s potent offense was to pressure the ball relentlessly.

 

“We knew it was going to be a physical game and that their game plan was to be very direct and to knock us as often as possible,” coach Curtis Blair said. “I think they were hoping we’d make a mistake and they could counter off it.”

 

Forwards Kristin Nunn and Eva Mollerup to hounded Baylor’s defense as they tried to play out of the back, and for the most part the Red Raiders handled that pressure with poise. Even though statistics won’t show it, the game was won by the skillful play of Baylor’s defense, who alternated between stopping Hutchinson’s attack and bringing the ball up field when in possession.

 

“I had faith in my teammates that we’d get it under control and that we could play it up to the forwards,” Cooper said. “We expected them to be a very physical team, and we found a way to handle them and get that goal.”

 

Hutchison forward Molly Browne experienced heartbreak in the 32nd minute when she broke free and got a great shot off. Her volley bounced off the far post and out, an unlucky occurrence for a team that gave maximum effort from the first minute to the last.

 

After a scoreless first half, it only took a few minutes for the Stophel to Oliveira connection to grab Baylor the lead. From that point on, the Red Raiders slowly began to control the ball and flow of the game, even if they were not able to notch another score. However, Hutchison’s players continued to fight until the final whistle.

 

“I thought we struggled in the first half, but we came out in the second half and did a much better job of competing for balls,” coach Blair said. “It wasn’t pretty soccer, but we knew that’s what it was going to be. At this point, it’s about getting the win and moving on.”

 

Baylor plays the winner of Father Ryan and CPA in the DII-AA soccer tournament. 



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