KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Baylor knew it needed to make a big noise in the Big 12 soccer tournament to have a shot to reach its first NCAA tournament in five years.
After beating No. 14 Texas and No. 16 Oklahoma State in the first two games, Baylor should be ready to punch its ticket when the 64-team field is announced Monday.
With senior Aline De Lima collecting two goals and an assist, the fifth-seeded Bears romped to a 3-0 win over top-seeded Oklahoma State in Friday’s semifinals at Swope Soccer Village.
The Bears advanced to their second Big 12 tournament final in school history at 3 p.m. Sunday against third-seeded TCU.
If Baylor (12-5-2) wins the conference tournament final, it will receive the automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. In their only other Big 12 championship game appearance in 2012, the Bears took a 4-1 win over TCU.
But even if the Bears don’t win, coach Paul Jobson thinks his team has done enough to receive an at-large bid after Wednesday’s 2-1 overtime win over Texas and Friday’s dominating win over Oklahoma State (16-3-2).
“I think that gets us in,” Jobson said. “If it doesn’t I’d be shocked. I knew that our girls had the ability to beat anybody on any day. I felt that all year. For us this road through the Big 12 championship has been a road of second chances.”
The Bears have had plenty of motivation during the tournament after dropping a pair of 1-0 overtime games to Texas and Oklahoma State during the regular season.
“It’s been an opportunity for us to right some wrongs on this trip,” Jobson said. “We felt we let one go against Texas, and we felt we really played better than Oklahoma State for the majority of the game when we were up there, and that one got away. For the girls, it’s not as much as having a chip on your shoulder as it is being committed to each other and not wanting the season to end.”
De Lima controlled the game with her speed and superb ball skills.
On the first goal, she made a long run and showed nifty footwork before ramming in a shot from 21 yards away to give the Bears a quick lead just 9:02 into the game.
“In practice, we had been working to defenders and dribbling in,” De Lima said. “I was so grateful I could do that movement and find the open shot. We all came out hard and had a great mentality. We focused and played our game and did everything we were supposed to do.”
Thirty minutes into the second half, De Lima got the ball to Ariel Leach who scored her first goal of the season when she drilled a shot into the left corner of the net from 21 yards away.
“Aline set me up in the best possible spot,” Leach said. “It was great. It just shows how hard we’ve been working this season. We’ve been really working on keeping the ball wide and keeping the ball low to the corner.”
With less than two minutes remaining, De Lima put the game away when she made a tremendous crossover move and fired in a shot from 15 yards out. De Lima scored her team-leading fifth and sixth goals of the season, and they couldn’t have come at a better time.
“She showed why she’s one of the best players in the league, if not in the country,” Jobson said. “If you give her the time and space to do whatever she wants, she’s going to take it to you.”
The Bears controlled the ball the entire game, taking 23 shots to Oklahoma State’s five. Baylor’s defense was so solid that goalkeeper Jen Wandt only had to make one save while Oklahoma State’s Michela Ongaro finished with four saves.
“I really think we dominated the game,” Jobson said. “I thought we did a great job in all aspects of the game. We kept possession and were able to take care of the ball. We were able to get off some quality shots. Defensively we were in complete lockdown mode.”