Women’s soccer bounces back with conference win

Story by Chad Mullen, Writer

After losing to No. 9 Benedictine 3-0 on Wednesday, the No. 16 Baker women’s soccer team wanted to show the homecoming crowd to expect an added motivation from the Wildcats for the rest of the season.

“Since we had just lost to Benedectine, we were motivated to show who we really are as a team,” senior defender Taylor Baum said. “Losing that game was tough because we had such high expectations, and having the game go the other way was not what we were expecting.”

The Wildcats responded with a dominant 5-0 victory over Culver-Stockton College Saturday, improving their record to 6-3. Baum said the momentum was in the Wildcats’ favor after senior Krista Hooper scored in the sixth minute of the game.

“The team that scores first is always the one whose confidence skyrockets,” Baum. “And we already had high confidence based on us knowing how important this game was to getting on the right track.”

Not only was a bounce-back victory important for the Wildcats, but they also had extra motivation from a series of defeats at the hands of Culver-Stockton in 2014 that still sting in the hearts of Baum and other senior members of the team.

“My sophomore year, Culver beat us in the regular season and in the conference tournament, which stopped our run to nationals,” Baum said. “We did beat them 4-0 last year, but the seniors all think about how they beat us twice when they shouldn’t have.”

The Wildcats showed offensive aggression through the first half, attempting 15 shots to Culver’s three, with seven corner kicks. BU added two more goals in the first half, the first coming from senior Katie Hibbeler on a Jenna Lattimer assist, the second in the waning moments of the half on a shot by Kady Dieringer. That was the first of the junior Dieringer’s two goals in the game, bringing her season total to a team-leading six.

“She has been on fire this year,” Baum said of Dieringer. “She had two awesome goals last night, and she’s a great player to have in the middle. Along with Keeley and Hooper, we have a great midfield.”

Along with the zero shots on goal given up by the Wildcats with the starting defenders Baum, senior Jessica Hillebert and sophomores Oaklee Jones and Maria Flores Tome on the field, the Wildcats dominated on both sides.

“We played with a calmness, and that’s another thing that we felt good about,” Baum said. “We just got possession, passed, moved and communicated, so it all came together for us.”

After Culver-Stockton’s starting goalkeeper Abby Mikesell was sidelined with an injury, the Wildcats were able to put two more goals on reserve Haley Davis. Atkin had her second goal of the season in the 59th minute, and just two minutes later, Dieringer scored on a header via a long free kick by Hillebert. Not much longer after that, with the game out of reach for Culver, all 11 of the Wildcats’ starters got to rest for much of the second half.

“Everyone got to play, and that was great for all of us because we showed the kind of depth that we had,” Baum said. “Of course, as a starter you want to stay on the field, but it felt good to watch our teammates getting playing time and play well.”

The Wildcats’ next test will be at home against MidAmerica Nazarene University, which finished just 13 votes out of the top 25 in the most recent NAIA Women’s Soccer Coaches Poll. The Pioneers are 4-1-4 on the season, and are tied for the Heart of America Athletic Conference lead with a record of 2-0-1. The Wildcats are 2-1 in Heart play. The match will be at 6 p.m. on Tuesday at Liston Stadium.