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Tuesday, 05 July 2011 10:33

Soccer Opener

8.26.10 | Soccer

Soccer teams open on the road Friday afternoon

Alix Schiraldi will lead the 2010 squad offensively.
Alix Schiraldi will lead the 2010 squad offensively.

BETHANY, Okla. - The 2010 soccer season officially gets underway on Friday afternoon when the No. 17 Baker women travel to Southern Nazarene University for a 1:00 p.m., matinee.

The Wildcats 13-7 in 2009, return three first-team all-HAAC performers — Christine Janssens, Chelsea Dunn and Alix Schiraldi — will lead the Baker women into their first game with the highest preseason ranking in program history.

Dunn, a defender, was the conference defensive player of the year and received honorable mention for the All-American team.

"As senior leaders, Christine and Chelsea are fantastic," Houser said. "One leads from front, one leads from back. They understand how to battle."

On Schiraldi, Houser said, "I think she is ready to break out. I think she'll let go a little bit and score a few more goals."

Southern Nazarene, 17-4-1 in 2009 will look to build on one of its most memorable seasons in school history. The Crimson Storm advanced to the second round of the NAIA National Tournament before falling to No. 1 Lindsey Wilson University.

The No. 24 Baker men will close out the afternoon when they also take on Southern Nazarene University at 3:00 p.m. CT. Launched in 1985, Baker University's soccer program has produced 21 consecutive winning seasons coming into 2010.

A strong core of returners should have the Wildcats ready to challenge for another conference crown.

The Heart of America Athletic Conference champions in 2008, the Wildcats' record was spoiled by five ties during their 11-3-5 season in 2009, a year after reaching the NAIA Sweet 16.

"We need to learn the lessons from our numerous ties we had and have a little more of a killer instinct," Wildcat coach Nate Houser said. "I think we can be just as dangerous as we were before. Last year we tried to attack everybody. This year we will be more disciplined and do what we did two years ago."

Matt Griffin
Matt Griffin

The Wildcats' top returner is first-team all-HAAC defender Matt Griffin, a senior from Olathe. Griffin (6-3, 190 pounds) was named the conference's defensive player of the year in 2009 and a third-team NAIA All-American.

"He is disciplined and offers a physical presence that no other team in conference really brings," Houser said.

Other key players on defense are senior goalkeeper Alex Burton and sophomore defender Laethe Hamil. Both were selected to the all-HAAC third team last fall.

Southern Nazarene University comes off a 2009 season in which the Crimson Storm went 9-6-2. In 2008, SNU entered the season ranked No. 7 nationally before being knocked off 1-0 in the season opener by Baker.


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