The Baker Orange

Men’s soccer advances to Sweet 16

Story by Lauren Bechard

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With three seconds left on the clock in the first overtime, senior Ben Coyle ripped a shot sending Baker men’s soccer fans out of their seats in hopes that it would be the game-winning goal against Midland University.

The ball smacked off a goal post, though, sending the ‘Cats into double overtime after 100 minutes of play in below-freezing weather at Liston Stadium on Saturday.

“I knew after he missed he was going to get another one,” senior captain Andy Griffin said. “I knew he was going to have another chance and that he would capitalize on it.”

That is exactly what happened just six minutes later when Coyle took another shot, finding the back of the net this time, and won the game for Baker 2-1.

“Hard work pays off,” Coyle said, after attributing the win to his team’s effort on the field.

With the win, the No. 13 Wildcat men’s soccer team improves to 15-5-2 on the season and will travel to Montgomery, Ala., as it advances to the Round of 16 of the NAIA national tournament.

“I’m really happy for the team. I think these guys have earned it,” head coach Nate Houser said. “They fought and we weathered some storms. We did some really good things, though. (Midland) is a very, very good team. They brought everything we have out of us.”

After Midland took the lead just 10 minutes into the game, Baker wouldn’t catch up until there was 0:17 left on the clock in the first half.

Freshman Chris Tuso took a corner kick that bobbled in front of the goal before freshman Kyle Young was able to send it home past the Midland keeper to tie the game.

The Wildcats are now on a seven-game winning streak, and four of their last five games have been against top 10 ranked teams.

“They are mentally and emotionally getting tougher,” Houser said. “When you have to deal with all of this, and you don’t feel good – you can’t feel your feet or fingers – you have to dig. The will has got to come from somewhere.”

Houser says he is proud that the team stuck together and “acted like a team” throughout the opening-round game.

In Alabama, the ‘Cats will face No. 4 Ashford University, a team from Iowa, which also won its first round match in double overtime.

Nationals will take place from Dec. 2-7 at the Emory Folmer YMCA Soccer Complex in Montgomery.