Men’s soccer team seeks return to playoffs
With three national tournament appearances in the past three years, Baker University's men's soccer team has lofty goals for the 2005 season.
After falling to Simon Fraser 4-3 in the second round of the NAIA national tournament last year, the Wildcats watched Heart of America Athletic Conference rival Lindenwood University claim the NAIA title. The Wildcats beat Lindenwood 2-1 earlier in the season.
"More than anything, it makes you realize that we're good enough in one game to beat anyone in the country," said Baker head coach Ron Pulvers, whose team finished 14-4-3 in 2004.
Even after losing three all-conference players in Matt Trumpp, Davy Phillips and Luke Parrott, Pulvers and his team know anything is possible.
"I think we'll be able to fill the spots well," said junior Marty Johnston, Baker's leading scorer last year. "Ron's new recruits already know the system and three of our four returning defenders have a lot of experience."
Pulvers expects junior Kevin Schmitt to fill the open spot in defense left from Trumpp -- last year's HAAC most valuable player -- and boasts about the play of returning sophomore Josh McDaniel, a medical red-shirt last year.
"(Schmitt) stepped into Matt's position and was fantastic, albeit a completely different player than Matt, but our back four was very intact in the spring," Pulvers said.
While the team will continue to use its usual 4-4-2 formation, with emphasis on a solid and organized defense, Pulvers said he expected the team's pace to be more controlled and possessive with the return of McDaniel.
"Josh is a polished, finished product," Pulvers said. "If he's healthy, then we'll be more of a possession team, a team that can really pace a game how we want to pace it."
Depth and experience should be strengths, Pulvers said. Newcomers expected to contribute are Matt Hamilton in the back line, and Chris Beier, Bradley Eigenberger, Matt Hodges and Patrick Thorn in the midfield.
Junior Bret Clark, an all-conference goalkeeper, is also back for the Wildcats.
Aug. 27 -- at UMKC (exhibition), Kansas City, Mo., 1 p.m.
Sept. 2 -- vs. Northwestern College, 5 p.m.
Sept. 4 -- vs. Morningside College, 1 p.m.
Sept. 7 -- vs. Columbia College, 5 p.m.
Sept. 14 -- vs. Ottawa, 5 p.m.
Sept. 17 -- at Hastings College, Hastings, Neb., 1 p.m.
Sept. 18 -- at Doane College, Crete, Neb., 1 p.m.
Sept. 24 -- vs. Graceland College, 1 p.m.
Sept. 25 -- vs. Culver-Stockton College, 3 p.m.
Oct. 2 -- at Central Methodist University, Fayette, Mo., 2 p.m.
Oct. 4 -- vs. William Jewell College, 4 p.m.
Oct. 7 -- at Rollins College, Orlando, Fla., 7 p.m.
Oct. 8 -- at University of Tampa, Tampa, Fla., 7 p.m.
Oct. 12 -- at Avila University, Kansas City, Mo., 4 p.m.
Oct. 15 -- at Lindenwood University, St. Charles, Mo., 8 p.m.
Oct. 18 -- at MidAmerica Nazarene University, Olathe, 4 p.m.
Oct. 20 -- at Park University, Parkville, Mo., 7 p.m.
Oct. 26 -- vs. Benedictine College, 4 p.m.
Oct. 29 -- vs. Missouri Valley College, 3 p.m.