Women’s soccer team savors national experience

Before the 2010 season, Baker University never envisioned being among the elite women’s soccer programs.

By the end of November, the Wildcats believed they belonged playing against the best, reaching the NAIA Women’s Soccer National Championship Semifinals in Decatur, Ala.

After receiving the fourth seed for the Heart of America Athletic Conference playoffs, the Baker women started to roll. The Wildcats, making their first appearance in the national tournament, knocked off five nationally ranked teams in a row before falling to Hastings College in the NAIA Semifinals.

The Wildcats defeated William Jewell to win the HAAC Tournament and earn a berth in the NAIA National Championship Series.

“We had high expectations coming into the season, but advancing to the point where we had a chance to play in a National Championship game really showed the true character of our ladies,” Wildcat head coach Nate Houser said. “These girls will forever be a part of the women’s soccer program at Baker. They’ve set a new standard for our future student-athletes.”

Jordan Dolbin and Carly Dickens became the first women’s soccer players from Baker to be named to the all-tournament team after leading the Wildcats offensively and defensively. Dolbin recorded four goals in the tournament, two in the opening round against No. 12 McKendree and two in the quarterfinals against No. 13 William Jewell College. Dickens continued to anchor a Baker defense that allowed only 11 goals the entire postseason.

Other schools took notice of the Wildcats’ success.

“We’ve already had some of the top teams in the country contact us about traveling to play them next season,” Houser said. “We really had a chance to showcase what our program was all about in this tournament and the girls didn’t disappoint.”

Baker looks to enter the 2011 season as one of the top-ranked teams in the country after its deep run in 2010.

“I think there is a very legitimate chance we will be ranked in the top 10 nationally,” Houser said.

Offensively Baker returns two key players in Alix Schiraldi and Dolbin. Defensively, goalkeeper Maggie Dupes looks to stabilize the Wildcat defense.

Five Wildcats received all-HAAC awards. Christine Janssens and Chelsea Dunn were named to the first team. Alix Schiraldi and Jordan Dolbin were selected to the second team, and Haley Oborney was a third-team selection.Fans packed Collins Gym to honor women's soccer team

Dunn and Janssens also received honorable mention for the NAIA All-America team for the second time in their collegiate careers.

Dunn and Janssens were among five Baker players to be recognized as 2010 Daktronics-NAIA Women’s Soccer Scholar-Athletes. Dupes, Dickens and Jen Sampson were the other honorees. Student-athletes must maintain a minimum grade-point average of 3.5 on a 4.0 scale and must have achieved a junior academic status to be considered for the honor.

On Tuesday, Dec. 7 at the Collins Center, the Wildcats were honored with a spirit rally. Students, faculty, staff and administrators shared in the team’s accomplishments and run to the national semifinals.

Categories: Wildcat Sports

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