Baylor senior McKenzie Thomas approaches every soccer match with the mentality that she wants to score as many goals as possible. Tuesday night against third-ranked GPS, she got only one, but it was the only one her team would need.
Thomas' goal seven minutes into the contest gave the Lady Red Raiders, top-ranked in Division II-AA and ranked 22nd nationally in the ESPN Rise poll, a 1-0 victory over their chief rivals at Baylor School. They are 9-1 overall, 2-0 in the East/Middle Region.
The Samford commitment scored on a header from Victoria Wicks.
"I thought that Simone [Busby, the GPS keeper] was going to go right, so I tried to head it towards the left," Thomas said. "We really wanted this win. GPS is a good team and it's always going to be close, but the win sets the tone for the team. We came here to win and we want to keep winning."
Baylor controlled possession for large portions of the game got off only nine attempts on goal. Thomas' early score was their first actual shot, and potential scoring chances were squandered more by the unselfishness of the home team.
"I didn't feel like we were getting any dangerous opportunities in the first half," Baylor coach Jimmy Weekley said. "We didn't really go at them at times, but I'm proud of the girls. I thought we played hard -- just wish we had been a little smarter about some things."
Baylor held the Bruisers' attack at bay for much of the game, to the point that the Lady Raiders' two keepers -- sophomore Analiese Smith and freshman Selena Popp -- had only one save each.
GPS coach Leland Strang, who played for Weekley at Baylor from 1999 to 2001 with two state championships, was pleased with how her team performed.
"I tried to approach this like I would any other game, but it's not," she said. "I thought we played real tough, and it was exciting.
"I thought it was pretty special to see how we played tonight; Baylor is a great team."