CSUN women’s soccer team headed into Friday night’s home match undefeated but wasn’t ready for the pair of free kicks No. 24 Baylor put into the net and fell to the Bears, 2-1.
Baylor spotted CSUN an early own goal but capitalized on two set pieces to hand CSUN its first loss of the young season.
“They’re a tough team to play against,” said head coach Keith West. “We lost our concentration a little there in the first half and we just didn’t execute the way we need to execute.”
Despite the Matadors’ nine shots (five on goal), Baylor’s offense doubled the number of shots, including eight on goal. Goals in the first and second half were enough to put CSUN away but not before the Matadors offense put together some chances.
Matador forward Lyndsey Preston took the game’s first shot within the first two minutes after Preston created her own offense on the right side powering past Baylor’s Karlee Summey. Her shot sailed wide left but set the pace early for CSUN.
In the 6th minute CSUN took the early 1-0 lead after a through ball on the Matador attack deflected off a Baylor defender and found its way into the Bears’ net. Baylor’s Michelle Kloss was helpless and out of position as the ball sailed into the top right corner.
“It’s always nice being up early,” said Katie Russ, senior defender. “But it messes with your head and gives you a little feeling of confidence. Our change of play was not for the good.”
Baylor managed to even up the match in the 30th minute after the Bear’s Taylor Heatherly connected with Kat Ludlow for the header. The set piece from the left was played to the far side where Ludlow found a hole in the defense and blasted one past CSUN’s Cynthia Jacobo.
“We knew on the scouting report that they were good on the free kick,” Russ said. “We worked on getting up for the headers because they are a lot taller than us but we left one man unmarked.”
The Bears continued to dominate the possession early in the second half while forward Stephanie Galarze helped create some near opportunities but couldn’t get CSUN ahead.
Northridge fell victim to another set-piece goal in the 65th minute but this time from the right side. Baylor’s Larissa Campos sent a cross to the near post where BU forward Dana Larsen cut the pass off in front of the CSUN defense with a header that went directly over an outstretched Jacobo.
“Usually (free kicks) are our time to refocus,” Galarze said. “Any little breakdown can hurt any team…we can’t let up for the set pieces.”
CSUN’s offense swarmed the net the last five minutes searching for the equalizer but failed to finish on multiple occasions and took the 2-1 defeat.
“They were one of the more physical teams we played last year and this year they were better,” Russ said. “It was good we played them early. We’ll go in harder from now on.”