SPECIAL FEATURE (Dec. 7, 2020) - As the spring semester approaches, Our Lady of the Lake University's (OLLU) women's soccer captain Baye Polansky (SR/Helotes, Texas) is preparing for a season unlike any other. Soccer, normally a fall sport, will begin five months later than usual, with fewer games and the possibility of no fans due to COVID-19. Despite the challenges, Polansky wants to have her most successful season ever and win another Red River Athletic Conference (RRAC) title.
"My goal record was seven goals and six assists set in my sophomore year," said Polansky, an all-conference senior midfielder. "I want to beat both those records by however much I can."
It will be challenging to accomplish her goals because the Saints will only play 12 regular-season games than the usual 16-17 in previous years. They play their season opener later on Jan. 30 as opposed to on Sept. 2 last season. The later start means the Saints will be playing in colder weather. And plans are for no spectators to be allowed to attend games due to the pandemic.
"Even playing a shorter season with no fans in the stands, it won't be an issue for Baye because it is her final season as senior captain, and she is a fierce competitor," said Head Coach Arthur Salazar.
Polansky has had to make some adjustments. She must wear a facemask during practice and while seated on the bench during games. As a captain, she must be a team leader. And, she must learn new tactical plays and lineups. "This season, I'm really focusing on a different aspect of my game," said Polansky. "I feel like this year, I'm focused on having confidence in that position and really making a difference."
Polansky works hard to accomplish her goals, and in the process, she pushes her teammates to strive for theirs. After practice, she gathers her teammates and offers them feedback and encouragement. Her interaction with them is always positive and upbeat.
A former forward, Polansky was switched to midfielder last season. Her confidence has grown, and the later start of the season gives her more time to prepare for her final season. Apart from practice, Polansky jogs twice daily around Elmendorf Lake, which is about three miles. She works with her teammates on shooting and doing one-on-one drills. She also studies hard and has received multiple scholar-athlete awards throughout her time at OLLU.
"From last year to this year, Baye has definitely grown into her role as a captain more confidently," said Liliana Briseno (JR/San Antonio, Texas), a junior central midfielder.
Polansky is determined to not only break her personal scoring record but also to win another conference championship. The team won the regular-season conference title last year, and they also captured the conference tournament due to forfeiture from the winning team.
"We want another conference title and go as far as we can in the national tournament," she said.
Despite the shorter season, Polansky hopes to make the most of it.
"I'm making sure I am enjoying the time that I have and working hard because of all the uncertainties from COVID-19," she said. "I'm excited to play and ready to compete."
OLLU will play on a newly renovated field that will include a brand-new, state-of-the-art scoreboard, new bleachers and an exterior fence - all made possible with funds donated by OLLU soccer alumna Erica Robertson and her brother Joshua Robertson.
Most home games will be live-streamed on the OLLU Saints Network.