The Baker Orange

2014 Women’s Soccer Preview

Story by Jim Joyner, Sports Editor

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Last year did not provide the dream season that the women’s soccer team was expecting. The Wildcats finished with a 7-5-7 record and 3-2-2 in the HAAC and missed out on the national tournament for the first time since 2009. Their defense was simply fantastic as they gave up only 18 goals in 19 games. The problem was the offense scoring only 24 goals in 19 games, an average of 1.26 goals per game. Three time All-American Shelby Schiraldi looks to lead the 2014 Wildcats to a conference championship and beyond.Tera Lyons

But for 2014 Baker returns 10 of 11 starters. Despite last season’s disappointment, this is a championship-caliber team. The Wildcats are senior-heavy with nine seniors, and they have the chance to go from the middle of the pack to the top instantly.

Davy Phillips stepped up from his assistant coaching post in 2013 to become the head coach this season. The women will take an early trip to California to take on Westmont College and Concordia (Irvine). This will be a non-conference test to gain confidence and play two good West Coast teams. Phillips hopes that they can take the same energy for the entirety of the game against Ashford into California.

“It will give us a chance against two really good teams out there,” Phillips said.

Baker will also have to win on the road to be successful this season since four of its seven conference games will be played away from home.

KEY RETURNERS

The biggest returner is the Baker defense. Senior goalie Rachel Theobald and senior defenders Shelby Schiraldi, and Lesley Johnson have combined for more than 160 career games. Schiraldi is a three time All-American, and it’s also hard to forget the impact she has on the offense as well. She is the best free-kick taker on the team and finished 2013 with seven assists and two goals. The duo of Schiraldi and Johnson in the middle is nearly impassable, providing an anchor for what could be the conference’s best defense. Adding in sophomore Taylor Baum to the bunch, this could be one of the most experienced back lines across the conference.

“Most of our seniors have started and played for all four years now,” Phillips said. “So they’ve been through it, they’ve been to a national tournament, they need to hold themselves accountable.”

The returning midfield is very strong as well, returning seniors Ashley Mauck and Bailey Sosa who provide 113 combined games. The midfield also returns junior Jenna Carducci, and sophomores Krista Hooper and Katie Hibbeler should give the Baker forwards a chance to make plays and score the goals they need to win games this year instead of finishing with draws.

The attack will be vital for the team’s success this season. Hooper made a big statement last season in scoring a team-leading seven goals and earning three HAAC Player of the Week awards. Senior Alexa Fryer scored four goals and assisted twice, and sophomores Keeley Atkin and Gabi Betsch finished with four goals. They accounted for 15 of Baker’s 24 goals in 2013.

Senior Hillary Yoder will also be a big part of the Baker attack. Yoder scored the game-winning goal against Ashford in their season opener with three minutes left.

“Hillary’s been scoring a lot of goals in the preseason,” Phillips said. “If she gets a shot inside the 18 she’s going to put it on frame.”

KEY DEPARTURES

Amber Pickering was the lone senior on last season’s roster. Pickering played with a lot of intensity, including some very rough play at times. She played in 72 games over her four years at Baker. Pickering was an essential part of the defense that played in three different national tournaments.

OUTLOOK

A successful season for this team will be finishing in the top two in the regular season in the HAAC as well as earning a berth to the national tournament. With all the starters returning and the winning experience in past seasons, this team has a shot to make a deep run into nationals.

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