The Baker Orange

Women’s soccer clinches spot at nationals

Story by Levi Blaylock, Writer

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The No. 11 Baker University women’s soccer team is headed to the NAIA national tournament in Orange Beach, Alabama, after beating No. 20 Viterbo 1-0 in the opening round of the NAIA Women’s Soccer National Championship on Saturday at Liston Stadium.

“Getting the win yesterday was so special. The atmosphere at Liston was so cool to be a part of and it meant a lot to be able to get the win at home, especially considering what a historic day it already was for Baker,” junior Krista Hooper said. “It’s been our goal all season to go Orange Beach, and it was so much fun to be able to reach our goal with my teammates.”

Megan Johnson scored the only goal of the match in the fifth minute. She ended the night with three shots.

Other key performers for the Wildcats were Hooper and junior Keeley Atkin, who each led Baker with four shots. Baker outshot Viterbo 16-12.

“The team is playing really good right now, I think we’re peaking at just the right time and every day we go into practice knowing we’re going to get better and that we’re going to come out even harder for our next game,” Hooper said.

2015 first-team Heart of America Athletic Conference goalkeeper Rachel Hunt had another stellar night between the pipes with six saves and another shutout.

“The biggest difference between this team and the team last year is that we’re all on the same page with what style of soccer we want to play,” Johnson said. “Last year was Coach Davy’s first year as head coach and everyone was trying to figure out how to play with his style. We have all been working really hard and have learned the way he wants to play, and it’s paying off.”

The Wildcats will have some time off before traveling to Alabama to play No. 8 Spring Arbor (Michigan) on Dec. 1 at Orange Beach, where the rest of the national tournament will be played.

Spring Arbor should be a worthy opponent after defeating Carroll (Montana), 3-0, on Saturday in another opening-round match.

“We are incredibly excited to head down to Alabama,” Johnson said. “There is only one player who has ever played in national tournament game so this entire experience is really new to the rest of the team. It’s what we have been working for all year.”

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