Two graduate students to assist Director of Soccer Nate Houser

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Two graduate students to assist Director of Soccer Nate Houser

Story by Kyle Davis

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Baker men’s and women’s soccer teams have taken the field to prepare for a season filled with tough matchups.

During coach Nate Houser’s first year as Director of Soccer, he will be joined by two new members in the coaching staffs. Davy Phillips is starting his first season as a graduate assistant for the men’s team, and Melanie Benson is entering her first season as a graduate assistant for the women’s team.

Benson said her goals this season are to find her coaching voice and to have a positive impact on the team.

The men will face six teams ranked in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics preseason top 25, including traveling to California in September to face the No. 1 team in the country, Azusa Pacific University.

The Wildcats will also face Graceland University, No. 8; Park University, No. 13; Oklahoma City University, No. 15; and Benedictine College, No. 21. The Baker women’s team will face three teams ranked in the NAIA preseason top 25, with all three games being road games. The Wildcats will face Graceland University, No. 10, in the final game of the regular season and also will play William Jewell College, No. 14, and Kansas Wesleyan University, No. 24.

“It comes down to conference,” senior Sara Matthews said. “We need to make sure we do our job there, which I know we can.”

One aspect of the game the men’s team is working on improving is its defense. Houser said the team’s defensive organization is really what they need to continue to sort out. The Wildcats will be playing a slightly different defensive formation, which could help their shape defensively.

“They have been very receptive of what we have to offer as a coaching staff,” Phillips said. “I think you’ll see huge success from the guys’ team this year.”

The women’s team will be looking to finish more chances this year on the offensive end. Baker only lost one senior, Annie Cook, and has a strong freshmen class to give them some depth. The team looks to benefit from an extra year of experience for those returning players.

The men’s squad will also feature a deep team, particularly at the goal tender position, Houser said.

The men’s and women’s teams have the same ultimate goal of making it to nationals but both teams first need to win in competitive conferences.

“The women have shown they are a playoff caliber team and now have to show they can get into the top three in the conference,” Houser said.