When Amandine Pierre-Louis drilled a free kick into the goal in overtime, No. 5 West Virginia survived a 2-1 win over Baylor in the Big 12 soccer opener Friday night at Betty Lou Mays Field.
But after such a riveting performance against one of the most powerful teams in the country, the Bears felt good about the direction their season is heading.
“I think we showed that we can play with anybody in the country tonight,” said Baylor coach Paul Jobson. “And as that game went on, it really could have gone either way. Unfortunate goal at the end there in overtime, but I can’t be more proud of what we did with an opportunity to kind of dismantle the No. 5 team in the country. Hopefully, we get to play them again in the Big 12 tournament.”
Pierre-Louis delivered the 20-yard game winner 5 minutes and 34 seconds into overtime following a Baylor foul . Baylor freshman goalkeeper Jennifer Wandt collected seven saves for the night, but couldn’t get to Pierre-Louis’ well-placed shot.
“It’s hard but give credit to her, it was a great free kick,” Wandt said. “I went that way, I saw her hit it. But it was just well placed into the side netting. But we came back the last couple minutes of the game, so I’m so proud of our team and the way we fought back to even get it into overtime.”
The Mountaineers (8-2) looked like they had the game won when Heather Kaleiohi scored with 2:17 left in regulation to break a scoreless tie.
But with 34 seconds to play, Baylor’s Aline De Lima scored her third goal of the season on a header that got past West Virginia goalkeeper Rylee Foster to send the game into overtime.
“I think it was just instinct,” De Lima said. “When we practice, I’m not good on the headers at all. It was a great ball from Sarah (King). It was in the right spot and I got it over the goalkeeper with my head. To come back and go into overtime is a really good feeling.”
The Mountaineers put a lot of pressure on Wandt all night as they took 19 shots to Baylor’s 10. But Wandt made several diving saves before the Mountaineers finally broke through with Kaleiohi’s goal.
“It’s the best team we’ve played this season for sure,” Wandt said. “It’s the biggest game of my career coming in from high school. It was a really great atmosphere and it was really cool to play against a front line like that. I was grateful that I had a defensive line and defensive mids that prevented so many shots.”
Wandt made diving saves of two shots by Michaela Abam in the first half and then stopped a shot by Sh’Nia Gordon early in the second half.
“Jen was fantastic tonight,” Jobson said. “Everybody’s been talking all year about how young we are in the goal. And I’ve said, ‘Hey, we’re probably the most experienced young group of goalies in the country.’ She proved that tonight, and she’s made some big saves all season.”
Baylor’s Lauren Piercy had two chances to score on breakaways later in the second half, but Foster made a save and the second shot flew wide left.
“I think we’re a team that wears down teams, and I think we did that tonight,” Jobson said. “You can’t question our resolve, you can’t question our fight, you can’t question our belief that we can play with anybody.”
The Bears (6-2-1) will return to action at 1 p.m. Sunday against Iowa State at Betty Lou Mays Field.