Baker soccer falls, 4-2
For a brief time in Saturday's Heart of America Athletic Conference post-season tournament championship, it looked like Baker University would show its league mastery again.
Baker fought off its dreadful first-half performance that resulted in a 3-0 lead by Lindenwood to pull within a goal. Jason Belisle started Baker back on the right track with a penalty kick goal to cut it to 3-1. Then another Baker goal by Daniel Knop pulled it to 3-2 and the healthy Wildcat crowd on hand went wild.
But, it didn't last. Lindenwood answered with a goal and went on to a 4-2 victory which probably means the end of the season for the Wildcats.
"We were close. The momentum had shifted," said Baker coach Ron Pulvers. "But, I guess it just wasn't meant to be. When you gift a team three goals like we did, it's tough to win no matter who you're playing. I was proud of them in the second half. They did everything they possibly could."
That was the opinion of the team, too.
"We were pleased with how we played in the second half," said Jason Bessey, a member of the Baker team. "We didn't play well defensively in the first half.
"They slipped one in on us when we were coming back and it was pretty much the nail in the coffin," said Bessey.
But the loss couldn't take away from another wise super season for Baker, which captured the regular season conference title with an 8-0 record.
"We went undefeated in conference we were real pleased with that," he said.
That included a 2-1 win over Lindenwood earlier in the season. Bessey and his teammates were pleased with how the season went and are looking forward to next year.
"I think it turned out to be a great season," said Bessey. "We were a young team with only two seniors, so we'll have a good team back next year.
"We'll miss those seniors (Jared Miller and Tim Cawles), because they were very emotional leaders," he said.
Overall, the Wildcats finished with a 12-9 record. Pulvers is already thinking about next year, too.
"It was a good season," said Pulvers. "We did what we needed to do at moments. We'd like to have a few of the games back, but that's to be expected with a young team.
"We're real anxious to get ready for next year," he said. "Our off season started Saturday afternoon."
There's still a glimmer of hope that Baker could get an at-large bid into the NAIA playoffs, but it's doubtful.