Men’s soccer welcomes 16 newcomers for 2013 season

Story by Lauren Bechard

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After saying goodbye to 11 seniors at graduation last year, the Baker University men’s soccer team had some cleats to fill.

Assistant coaches Sara Matthews and Davy Phillips were able to fill those spots and then some by recruiting two transfers and 14 freshmen for the 2013 season.

“Sara and Davy did a good job finding some pretty confident kids – kids that we feel can step in and be a part of things right away,” head coach Nate Houser said.

The Wildcats have made it to the NAIA national tournament three out of the last four seasons, and concluded 2012 with a 5-2 record in the Heart of America Athletic Conference, good for a second place finish.

The Wildcats are ranked fourth in the HAAC preseason poll, which Houser finds interesting after how well the team did in “the toughest conference in the country last year.”

Senior Andy Griffin looks to the standings for motivation, though.

“I’m cool with it, let people think what they want about us,” Griffin said. “Actions speak louder than words, though, and if we start off on the right foot, I think we’ll be in a good position to prove them wrong.”

While the chemistry on the field may be different with the newcomers, Griffin is proud of the work his teammates have put in during the preseason two-a-days so far.

“The effort has been fantastic,” Griffin said. “Everyone has been showing up and working hard. We’re all working to get on the same page, but we’re getting along well and I think it will only continue to get better from here.”

Baker will open its season in Clinton, Iowa, on Saturday against nationally ranked Ashford University. The ‘Cats will return to Baldwin City on Sunday for a home-opener against AIB School of Business at North Park. Both game times are scheduled for 2:30 p.m.