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BU captures 1st Big 12 title

Nov. 3, 1998

BY TORIE JOHNSON

Reporter

Torie_Johnson@baylor.edu

The salty tears flowed freely as the Gatorade dripped from women's soccer head Coach Randy Waldrum Sunday afternoon. The women's soccer team got to celebrate Baylor's first Big 12 title in any sport, when they defeated the No. 9 University of Nebraska Cornhuskers 1-0.

The No. 16 Bears improved their record to 15-3-1 overall and 9-0-1 in the Big 12. Nebraska fell to 14-3-1 overall and surrendered their first conference loss in 10 games.

The Baylor soccer program, in its third year, has become an elite program in the Big 12.

'Getting the program to this level after only three years surprises me,' Waldrum said. 'I would like to think that our assistant coaches, Keri Riley and Rebecca Hornbacher, are very much responsible for it. We have been fortunate in recruiting the kind of kids we have here. It's a great chemistry.'

The road to Sunday's game was not easy for the Bears. The win ended a grueling regular season that included 11 road games against competition like the No. 1 team in the country and defending national champions, the University of North Carolina Tar Heels. The schedule, though difficult, was necessary for the team's improvement.

'We went to play Duke, UNC, UCLA and USC, in my opinion, to be able to come back and play this game here at home,' freshman goalkeeper Megan Jones said. 'The experience for the new players playing against that kind of competition helped us a lot.'

Jones had to step in as goalie when regular starter, sophomore Dawn Greathouse, was injured in the Bears' 3-0 win over Iowa State on Friday. Greathouse suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee. Greathouse, along with her 11 shutouts, was sidelined for the biggest game of the year.

'I would have wanted to be out there, but Megan Jones did such a fabulous job,' Greathouse said. 'I'm sure that everyone on the team would admit she saved the game numerous times. There were so many things you could say about how well she did. She is awesome.'

Greathouse said she will have surgery in the next couple weeks or month depending on the swelling of her knee.

Sunday's game seemed to involve two completely different Baylor teams. The Bears were forced to play defense in the first half and did not record a shot on goal. However, in the second half, Baylor played more aggressively and attacked the loose balls. The entire game was physical, with the two teams committing 23 fouls, but the Bears made the right adjustments at halftime.

'Once we weathered the storm in the first half, I think they realized that we at least belonged on the field,' Waldrum said. 'In the second half, we just said, 'it's not about being pretty today. Let's start dumping some balls on their end.''

Junior forward Courtney Saunders scored in the 53rd minute off a Molly Cameron assist. Saunders moved her team-leading goal count to 14.

'Winning this is what we wanted, it's what we have planned on doing for three years and to actually have it happen is a dream come true,' Saunders said. 'We get to get another one next year.'

Saunders will have another chance to defend the Big 12 title, but the two senior players, Julie Larson and Lori Johnson, will have to watch their teammates from the stands. Both players, a defender and forward, could not have ended their regular seasons any better than at home, with the upset over higher ranked Nebraska, and with the conference title.

'We had a big bonding moment in the locker room before the game. We had a lot of reasons to fight for it, being the seniors last year,' Larson said. 'It was a lot of incentive--it was all heart.'

The Bears will put their hearts on the line again in the Big 12 Conference tournament, which begins on Thursday. The Bears, the No. 1 seed, will play the winner of the Texas vs. Missouri game at 7:30 p.m. on Friday at the Blossom Soccer Complex in San Antonio.

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