Men’s soccer off on right foot

Story by Kyle Davis

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It was no easy game to kick off the season for Baker men’s soccer team as they traveled to Bethany, Okla., on Saturday to face No. 7 ranked Southern Nazarene University.

“They came out and were patient and did what we asked them to do defensively,” head coach Nate Houser said.

The Wildcats beat Southern Nazarene 1-0 on a goal by senior Jon Baldwin, 25 minutes into the first half. Junior Luke Haidarovic was credited with the assist.

Haidarovic scored earlier in the game, but the goal was reversed by the assistant referee on a controversial call after he was called offside.

Haidarovic was given a straight red card in the second half for a slide tackle from behind, and the Wildcats had to play with one less man for the rest of the game.

“I think our defense played really well,” junior Elliott Harvey said. “They were putting a lot of pressure on us, and we were able to hold strong.”

Houser said he thought goalkeeper Alex Burton stepped up and played very well.<br/>Baker played well in the shutout victory, but there are aspects the team is looking to work on as the season progresses.Baker played well in the shutout victory, but there are aspects the team is looking to work on as the season progresses.
Baker played well in the shutout victory, but there are aspects the team is looking to work on as the season progresses.

“We definitely have room to improve,” Harvey said. “We will learn to work better as a team.”

Southern Nazarene is the first of six preseason nationally ranked teams the Wildcats will face this season.

Senior Owen Barnhart said the tough early schedule would definitely help the team later on in the season. He added this was a great win but said the team has to focus on the next game.

The Wildcats still have many challenges ahead but were able to come out with a win in their first road test against a ranked team.

“It shows we’re headed in the right direction,” Houser said. “It’s a good sign to all of us we are doing the right things.”

Baker played Kansas Wesleyan University Thursday in Salina but results were unavailable as of presstime.

The team will face Bethel College at 3 p.m. Saturday at North Park. The Wildcats won both games last year, beating Kansas Wesleyan 3-0 at home and winning 2-1 against Bethel on the road. Kansas Wesleyan is currently receiving NAIA top 25 votes.

“We played both last year, and both were good games,” Barnhart said. “We can’t take either of them lightly.”