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Women’s soccer beats MNU 3-2 on Rivalry Night

Story by Bailey

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Baker University’s women’s soccer team made a statement on Tuesday night during Rivalry Night against MidAmerica Nazarene at Liston Stadium. It was a statement that had the Wildcats up 3-0 at halftime against the Pioneers. Baker went on to beat MNU 3-2 at the final whistle, defeating MNU for the third year in a row in the regular season.

Baker began its scoring run with a goal by senior Krista Hooper in the 12th minute, followed by a goal by freshman Erica Esch in the 29th minute. Esch has had a breakout freshman year, starting in all 10 games so far and having three goals in those 10 games. Even with her great season start, being a freshman on the field with older player can be a little nerve-racking for Esch.

“To be honest it makes me a little nervous, but I love playing,” Esch said. “Playing with the older girls helps me be better, they make me look good when I mess up, I love playing with them.”

Esch’s goal in the 29th minute was secured when MNU goalkeeper Anesa Curic came to the top of the box and wasn’t able to get her hands on the ball before Esch could direct it to the back of the net.

“I was like ‘I need to keep it on the ground and shoot it low’ because I always like to shoot it to their hands somehow so I got to keep it low this time, which helped,” Esch said.

Baker’s lead was then extended again by junior Kady Dieringer, assisted by Esch. Dieringer now has seven goals for the season.

The Wildcats held the Pioneers to just two shots in the first half and five shots total. At the end of the first half, Baker held a strong 3-0 lead even after MNU was given five set-piece opportunities in corner kicks.

In the second half the Pioneers fought back with a goal by Hannah Benedict in the the 78th minute. This was Benedict’s seventh goal of the season.

With Baker still holding on to a 3-1 lead, Taryn McClendon capitalized on a free kick for the Pioneers, bringing the final score of the night to 3-2. Baker was able to hold on to the lead and Baker goalkeeper Rachel Hunt helped preserve the lead with one save in the second half.

Rivalry night continues to be one of the highlights of the soccer season, and for Esch, the competitiveness was at an all-time high with friends on the other team.

“I definitely have competitiveness, so I wanted to beat them,” Esch said. “I love them still, but during the game I was like ‘let’s go get them.'”

With the victory, the Wildcats improve to 3-1 in conference play and 7-3 overall. The Wildcats will now travel to Oskaloosa, Iowa, to take on William Penn University Saturday at 2 p.m. The Statesmen are 1-2 in conference play, 3-5 overall.

Baker defeated William Penn 3-2 last year on senior night at Liston Stadium.

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