K-State soccer opened its third season of Big 12 action on Thursday night at Buser Family Park against defending league champion Baylor. The Wildcats took the Bears into a second overtime, but Baylor scored the deciding goal to clinch a 1-0 win.
“It’s a tough one as far as the way it ended,” said head coach Mike Dibbini about the outcome. “I thought we played a heck of a game, we battled, we competed. They’re a very good physical team, very aerial team. We had good moments, we fought to the very end and unfortunately just couldn’t defend that last set piece but overall I am proud of us and we’ve just got to put this one behind us and move forward now.”
K-State (2-6-2, 0-1-0 Big 12) was the first of the night to threaten the net in the defensive battle. In the 42nd minute, sophomore Chloe Fisher gathered the ball at the top of Baylor’s 18-yard box and fired a hard ground ball that Baylor collected for the save.
Moments later, Baylor (5-2-3, 1-0-0) found their first shot on goal but K-State goalkeeper Rachel Harris stopped the attempt with a diving punch to send it away from trouble.
With seconds to play in the first stanza, the Bears received a deflection from six yards in front of the net on a long direct kick but Harris easily made the save on her line to keep the match scoreless.
Harris finished the night with a career-high and school record 12 saves on the night. Dibbini was proud of the effort from his redshirt goalkeeper.
“She’s extremely impressive. She did a great job of keeping us in the game, making big save after big save, that’s what we need and she gave us life and she was very impressive tonight.”
In the second half, Harris made a pair of diving saves to keep Baylor off the board. K-State’s Bailey Nemechek and Brookelynn Entz each pocketed a shot on goal in the second half that threatened to give the Wildcats the lead. Entz entered Thursday night ranked third in the Big 12 in total shots and added three to her ledger.
K-State’s Shelby Lierz threatened to end the match in the first overtime. Lierz took open space in front of her and carried possession from the midline to just outside the 18-yard box. Lierz uncorked a line drive shot through traffic, but Baylor goalkeeper Jennifer Wandt deflected the ball into the air and caught it just off of her line. Wandt ended the night with four saves.
With their 11th corner kick of the night, Baylor’s Ally Henderson found the head of Giuliana Cunningham who deflected the attempt into the upper left corner in the second overtime.
Baylor ended the night with a 26-10 advantage in total shots and a 13-4 lead in shots on goal.
Kansas State entered Thursday’s match with the highest NCAA RPI in program history and started the match with three of K-State’s 10 freshmen – Silke Bonnen, Nemechek and Shae Turner. Bonnen, who is second on the team in total minutes played this season, played all 102 minutes while Turner clocked 96 and Nemechek played a career-high 92.