The Baylor soccer team's highest win total in four years highlighted a successful 2016 season, a year the young team hopes will prove to be a cornerstone for 2017 and beyond.
The Bears' final record of 12-7-1 was the team's best since 2012, when the Bears won the first Big 12 Tournament title in program history.
Despite losing three starters, including star forward Bri Campos, from the 2015 team, the Bears finished third in the competitive Big 12 for a second straight year and placed three players on the All-Big 12 team.
"The main thing about the 2016 team was their ability to play hard and put up a good fight every time we took the field," head coach Paul Jobson said. "That's a testament to the team's resiliency and determination to compete at a very high level."
Signs of that resiliency are embedded throughout the season's final record. The Bears notched wins over four Big 12 teams that reached the NCAA tournament, including a road victory over the Oklahoma Sooners, ranked in the top 25 at the time. Five of their seven losses were by a single goal, and the remaining two losses were by two goals.
Picked to finish fourth in the preseason coaches poll, the Bears finished one spot higher and advanced to the semifinals of the Big 12 Soccer Championships in Kansas City, Missouri. At the Big 12 Championships, Baylor defeated Oklahoma State 1-0 before falling in overtime to TCU, a loss that kept the Bears out of the Big 12 championship match and deprived the team of a shot at playing in the NCAA Tournament.
Jobson believes coming so close to post- season play will serve as a strong motivator for the team in 2017.
"This team was disappointed when our season ended too early, and not making the NCAA tournament was a big letdown," Jobson said. "That sting should last through to next fall and motivate next year's team. We are bringing back a lot of players from a great team that is extremely motivated to take this team to the next level. A group that is not satisfied with just having a winning season anymore.
Three Bears earned postseason honors. Sophomore midfielder Julie James was named to the National Soccer Coaches Association of America All-Central Region third team, and earned first-team All-Big 12 honors. Sophomore forward Lauren Piercy was named to the All-Big 12 second team and forward Raegan Padgett earned all-freshman team honors.
"This was a good, but not great, season," Jobson said. "We still have a lot more we want to accomplish. We bring back a lot of big parts to the team next year that know how to win and are very motivated."