With 6:17 left on the clock in the first half, Baylor’s Jamie Butt scored her second goal of the game against GPS, bringing the Red Raiders within two goals of the host Bruisers, 5-3. What happened after that goal was total GPS domination. The Bruisers closed out the first half with four goals in the final 5:04 of the opening period and then proceeded to shut out their downstream rival in the second half. The final tally of 19-3 in favor of GPS gave no indication of the competitive nature of the game’s first 20 minutes.
The victory was the second consecutive win for GPS over Baylor in the last two years and gave the Bruisers a 15-3 record on the season, 5-0 in region play. With the loss, Baylor drops to 13-5-1; 3-1 in the region. Both teams have one game remaining on their regular season schedule before the postseason gets underway.
The game opened with both teams trading goals in the opening 90 seconds. The Bruisers found the back of the net in the first minute with junior Reagan Ziegler powering the ball into the cage after a sharp feed from senior Evie Jackson. Mary Jenkins Holliday would answer for the visitors almost immediately with a shot right on the goal circle to even the score. GPS's Chapel Tremain would then score a pair of goals unassisted in the next two minutes, which would be the start of her career-best five goal performance. Senior Evie Jackson would answer Butt’s first goal with two of her own to give GPS a 5-2 advantage with 11:35 in the first period, and Baylor would take a time out.
Jackson tallied four goals in the first half, the last two coming in the final two minutes before the break. The 9-3 halftime margin would only be increased throughout the second half, as four different GPS players scored in the first six minutes to extend the goal span to 10. From there, GPS used a quartet of midfielders—including Ziegler, Sofia Bean, CJ Polk, and Margaret Cover—to monopolize the draw and dictate the pace of the entire final half.
After the game, GPS head coach Jay Watts noted the strong performance of his defense. “I am incredibly proud of our defense and both of our goalies for pitching a shutout in the second half. Baylor is a strong team with a lot of weapons on offense, and our seniors really stepped up in this game. Seniors Olivia Burns and Abi Austin played their best games of the season, and Savannah Stout had three big saves in the final 10 minutes of the game.”
Watts continued, “Our midfield unit also played great defense tonight with numerous deflections and forced turnovers in transition. I could not be happier with the way these girls rose to the occasion.”
When asked about the way the Bruisers finished the game, Bruiser CJ Polk added, “If I were to highlight one thing about today’s game, it would have to be the all-around effort. We stepped things up in the second half and got into our groove. You could tell that something had changed just by the way the game started flowing. Everything came so natural to everyone—not only the midfield, but both the attack and defense as well. That fire after halftime really helped us seal the deal.”
GPS will host Signal Mountain in its final regular season game on Monday at GPS at 6:30 p.m.