Playoff loss ends year

11/09/07

The end of a successful season has come as the Baker women’s soccer team fell to Benedictine College 2-1 in a Region V playoff game last Friday.

The Wildcats finished with a 10-7-2 season record and finished fourth in the Heart of America Athletic Conference standings with a 5-3-1 record.

“We got better from game one to the last game,” coach Nate Houser said. “We got smarter, more confident, and we grew up a lot.”

During the regular season, Baker also lost to Benedictine 2-1.

Benedictine came out strong in the first five minutes but then Baker took over and dominated the rest of the first half. The Wildcats held the Ravens to one shot on goal in the first half.

The second half became more physical, and Benedictine was able to score the first goal of the game. It came on a free kick that hit off the crossbar and into the net after a foul was called against Baker. The second Raven goal was headed into the net off a corner that was kicked into a mob of players. Baker responded with a goal of its own from sophomore Mikayla Medlock. Unfortunately for Baker, this was the final goal of the game.

The Wildcats had opportunities throughout the game, but missed open goals and had shots hit off the crossbar. A last attempt with six seconds left was also off the mark.

Despite the loss, Baker out shot Benedictine 17-4 and had seven corner kicks to Benedictine’s three. The Wildcats also only committed five fouls while the Ravens had 15.

“It is too bad that we couldn’t continue on in the playoffs, but it was a great season,” defender Alysia King said.

The HAAC has acknowledged eight Baker players for their success this season. Freshmen Christine Janssens and Jennifer Sampson were named as first-team All-Conference. Sophomore Gina Schiraldi and defender Chelsea Dunn were named as second-team All-Conference. Goalie Pam Brummit, freshman Haley Oborny, Medlock, and midfielder Rachel Shepard were named as third-team All-Conference.

“It is always a huge accomplishment for teams and individuals to be recognized,” King said. “It is a great accomplishment for what they do for our team.”

The Wildcats are losing one senior, Annie Cook, who Houser said has been a great senior leader. Baker, along with returning almost all of its players, is bringing on several recruits for next year. Houser is looking to bring in another forward and a goalie, who would back up Brummit.

“This has been the best season since I’ve been here,” junior Tracy Light said. “The team got along really well, and this was a big building year for the freshmen.”

This is the first time that Baker has made the playoffs in four years. Next year’s playoffs will change as there will be a conference tournament instead of regional games. The team that wins the conference tournament will get an automatic bid to nationals.

“The future looks really good,” Houser said. “Even if no one else came to Baker, we could still be one of the top two teams in the conference.”

Now that the season is over, the Wildcats will start their offseason program, which Houser calls physical maintenance. This is intended to keep the players fit and to strengthen the skills of the freshmen. Some players also enter winter indoor soccer leagues, although Houser cannot coach them during this time.

“I am really looking forward to next year,” Light said. “We will have some strong recruits coming in, and of course the ultimate goal is to go to nationals.”