Jorian Baucom enjoyed a three-year run at LSU that would be the envy of just about any other soccer player.
In 2014 she was named the Southeastern Conference Freshman of the year after recording eight goals and four assists. Over the next two seasons Baucom scored another 25 goals, earning first team All-SEC honors in 2015 while leading the Tigers to an appearance in the NCAA Tournament.
It was a memorable run. It also wasn't nearly satisfying enough for Baucom.
While she admitted there was some "agreeing to disagree" with coaching decisions at LSU, in the end Baucom simply didn't believe she was making as big of strides as a player as she wanted. That's when she turned her sights westward to the University of Colorado and a program that was among the finalists when she finished high school in Scottsdale, Ariz.
After sitting out last season due to a knee injury, Baucom's final year of college soccer and lone season with the Buffaloes could be a mutually beneficial partnership for a club expected to make a run at its fifth NCAA Tournament appearance in six seasons.
"I felt like I showcase as well as I could at LSU and I did have a great three years there, but ultimately it just came down to player development. I just felt like I wasn't getting better as a player," said Baucom, who left LSU tied for third among the program's all-time goal-scorers. "I just wanted to have a good final senior year and I thought it was best to move on and find a better fit so I could showcase as best as I can for the draft. Which is my ultimate goal."
At Colorado, Baucom joins a program that has sent players to the National Women's Soccer League draft in each of the past two seasons in Danica Evans and Becca Rasmussen. While Baucom originally chose LSU over CU out of high school, her club coach on the youth circuit, Les Armstrong, once played professionally alongside CU coach Danny Sanchez. The duo have maintained a solid relationship — CU senior Nancy Best also played for Armstrong — and the Buffs quickly became the frontrunners to land Baucom when she opted to transfer.
"I think she wanted to play in the Pac-12, she wants to play professionally, she wants to play at the highest level," Sanchez said. "I think she felt like this was a good opportunity to come in to. She does things different physically and she has experience. At the end of the day she's a redshirt senior. That experience of playing at different levels, having success in the SEC, and that can only help her here."
Baucom suffered a knee injury in the spring of 2017 after she had decided to transfer to CU, relegating her to the sideline last year during what originally was supposed to be her senior season. This year, Baucom has the potential to add a dynamic finishing touch to an attack that welcomes back two other veterans who missed last season due to knee injuries in Steph Zuniga and Libby Geraghty. Perhaps more importantly, Baucom already has developed a close relationship with junior midfielder Taylor Kornieck, who this week was named to the watch list of the Hermann Trophy as the nation's top player for the second consecutive year.
"Taylor, me and her immediately clicked and she's one of my best friends on the team. I definitely think that's going to translate to the field," Baucom said. "One of the biggest parts of being a soccer player is making connections with your teammates and those around you that you're going to be playing with. The fact that we already have a great relationship off the field is only going to make us that much better a duo on the field."
The Buffs open the 2018 season Thursday night at Air Force.