KANSAS CITY — With Lauren Piercy’s game-winning goal in overtime, Baylor took a 2-1 thriller over TCU in the Big 12 tournament championship game Sunday to qualify for the NCAA soccer tournament for the first time in five years.
It was déjà vu for the Bears after they beat TCU, 4-1, in the 2012 Big 12 tournament championship game to receive the automatic berth to their last NCAA tournament appearance.
Baylor coach Paul Jobson is glad his team won’t have to sweat out an at-large bid when the 64-team NCAA tournament field is announced Monday afternoon.
“I’m super excited to know that we’re in no matter what,” Jobson said. “We said, ‘You guys remember back to the talk we had before the season started?’ We said we didn’t want to leave it up to a committee to make a decision, and we did that. I know the work they’ve put in, on and off the field, this year to make this happen. I’m just really proud of them.”
During this year’s Big 12 tournament, the fifth-seeded Bears (13-5-2) knocked off three teams that had beaten them in overtime during the regular season.
After opening the tournament with Wednesday’s 2-1 overtime win over fourth-seeded Texas, Baylor dominated top-seeded Oklahoma State in Friday’s 3-0 win to advance to the championship game against the third-seeded Horned Frogs (12-6-3).
“I think it was kind of the redemption tour,” Jobson said. “Every team that we were going to play was going to be a team that we had missed an opportunity on. So it kind of makes you feel good, for sure, to right some wrongs.”
On the game-winning goal, Piercy took a pass from Aline De Lima and slipped the ball past TCU goalkeeper Katie Lund into the left corner of the net 3 minutes and 42 seconds into overtime.
“Me and Aline kind of slightly made eye contact, and I knew that she was going to play the through ball.” Piercy said. “So I just started running and got behind their back line and just decided to calm down and finish the shot. Honestly, I don’t even know how to describe it. It went in and I just started screaming.”
De Lima was named the Big 12 tournament’s offensive outstanding player as she scored a pair of goals against Oklahoma State and collected four assists.
“She draws attention and she’s able to dish balls off to other people and let them do what they need to do,” Jobson said. “And the great thing is we’ve got girls that can step up and do that. And we saw that today.”
The Bears looked like they would beat TCU in regulation when Kennedy Brown took a pass from De Lima and sliced a shot past Lund into the right corner of the goal.
But TCU pulled into a 1-1 tie when Ryan Williams scored on a penalty kick with less than four minutes remaining. The Horned Frogs were awarded the penalty kick when Baylor’s Precious Akanyirige hit the ball with her hand near the goal.
“The worst thing that could happen is their heads can go down, and they could feel dejected,” Jobson said. “And they had every right to feel that way. But again they showed their resiliency and they showed their veteran mentality and fought through it and found the victory.”
Baylor held a 17-10 edge in shots after taking eight to TCU’s none in the first half. Lund collected nine saves for the Horned Frogs while Jen Wandt had one save for the Bears.
Baylor had five selections to the all-tournament team, including Akanyirige, Piercy, De Lima, Sarah King and Julie James.