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Tuesday, 19 August 2014 00:00

Women’s Soccer Eyes Successful '14

Shelby Schiraldi and the Wildcats open up 2014 at home this Saturday at 12 p.m. against No. 20 ranked Ashford Shelby Schiraldi and the Wildcats open up 2014 at home this Saturday at 12 p.m. against No. 20 ranked Ashford

BALDWIN CITY, Kan. – Baker University's new head women's soccer coach Davy Phillips is no stranger to the Wildcat soccer program, so to call him the 'new' head women's soccer coach at Baker is merely a formality.

He was promoted to head women's soccer coach in March of 2014 taking over the program from Baker Athletics Hall of Famer Nate Houser. But Phillips has been the assistant coach of the BU men's soccer program from 2008 to 2013 and carried the same role with the women's team from 2009 through 2013.

Houser will now serve as solely the head men's soccer coach beginning this Fall.

Phillips played the 'Cats as well, graduating from BU in 2006 and he is ready to lead the women's program as a first-time head coach at the collegiate level. But what will a Davy Phillips led women's soccer program look like out on the pitch?

"Hopefully an energetic, organized and committed brand of soccer," said Phillips. "With confidence going forward in the attack."

His squad returns nearly all of its players from a 2013 team that went 7-5-7 and finished fifth in the HAAC standings. The lone senior from 2013 was Amber Pickering, but the 2014 Wildcats will feature eight seniors in 2014 including Shelby Schiraldi, Lesley Johnson, Rachel Theobald, Alexa Fryer, Bailey Sosa, Ashley Mauck, Hilary Yoder and Kayla Infanti.

Schiraldi is a three-time NAIA All-American defender, while Johnson and Fryer are coming off seasons where each were named to the HAAC All-Conference teams, both earning spots on the All-HAAC Third Team. Theobald is a four-year starting goalkeeper who collected 70 saves last season.

The returners are an experienced and tested group that advanced to the NAIA Final site in 2012 after defeating Bellevue (Neb.) in the NAIA Opening Round at home.

Defensively the Wildcats had a strong 2013, allowing more than two goals in a game just once, a 3-1 loss at NCAA Division II McKendree University and allowed just 18 goals in 19 games played.

"I think we have been strong defensively and we return four of our top five players on defense," said Phillips. "Shelby Schiraldi and Lesley Johnson will be key in the back along with our goalkeeper Rachel Theobald.

"I'm looking forward to playing Bailey Sosa more full-time in the midfield and Keeley Atkin will slide back in the midfield."

Speaking of Atkin, she will return as part of a stellar sophomore group consisting of three-time 2013 HAAC Player of the Week Krista Hooper along with Madison Armoneit, Katie Hibbeler, Jessica Hillebert, Kaitlyn Pritchard, Gabrielle Betsch, Caroline Susmilch, Makenzie Hanson and Taylor Baum.

Hooper led Baker in scoring with seven goals and 46 shot attempts, while Atkin added three goals and Betsch had one.

The junior class will feature just one Wildcat in Jenna Carducci, who played in 10 games in 2013.

The newcomer class consists of a mix of freshmen and a couple of transfers and coach Phillips likes what this new class can bring to the squad.

"Taylor Yates out of Shawnee Mission West high school is a very good defender and Cara Doctor who transfers to us from the University of Oklahoma are both players I'm looking forward to finding a place on the field," said Phillips. "Caroline Sismilch brings a lot of athleticism and Megan Johnson who is senior Lesley Johnson's little sister is also very athletic with lots of potential."

The 2014 squad will take on some of the top teams in the NAIA right out of the gate, as they face No. 20 ranked Ashford on Saturday, Aug. 23 at 12 p.m. inside Liston Stadium for its season opener. Live stats and live video will be available at www.bakerwildcats.com

But the schedule gets even tougher when they travel to California to face No. 2 ranked Westmont and No. 5 Concordia-Irvine.

The Wildcats then return home for three-straight non-conference home matches with Park University (Mo.) on Sept. 10, Wayland Baptist (Texas) on Sept. 12 and Grace University (Iowa) at North Park in Baldwin City on Sept. 13.

The rest of the home dates for the 'Cats are: Sept. 24 against Ottawa (Kan.), Sept. 27 Bethany (Kan.), Oct. 11 Culver-Stockton (Mo.), Oct. 14 MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.), Oct. 29 Missouri Valley and senior night against Central Methodist (Mo.) on Nov. 1.

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