Midfield experience key for BU women’s soccer
Experience is going to be key for Baker University women's soccer team, something the team hasn't had necessarily in the past, head coach Nate Houser said.
"Our strengths are going to be in our experience, especially in the middle of the field," he said. "A lot of the girls are three years into the program and are used to what we try to do, and they're pretty confident. They're able to solve problems a lot better than in the past."
The Wildcats are coming off a 5-11-1 season in 2004, a year after qualifying for the NAIA Region V tournament.
The record was misleading, however. The Wildcats lost to 2004 NAIA national champion Westmont College, one of four teams the Wildcats played that finished in the NAIA's Final Top 25 poll. Senior defender Britt Strick, of Prairie Village, said the difficult schedule from last year should pay off this year.
"Last year's schedule is going to make a huge difference for this year," she said. "We started off last year playing teams like Westmont, and it got our confidence down. We're still going to play some tough teams this year, but we should be able to get some wins early and build our confidence."
On offense, the team will be without Alex Williams, who transferred to Park University. The Wildcats return sophomore Whitney Rinck, of Lee's Summit, Mo., and added transfer Krystal Fraass from Concordia (Neb.) University.
"We're looking for Whitney to be a threat for us," Houser said. "If she can do this season what she did at the end of last season, she'll be dangerous. Krystal will also be a threat for us, so hopefully the two of them will match up well together."
Those two players will have their eyes on the goal.
"We're going to have more true forwards this year, which is something we haven't necessarily had in the past," Strick said. "Last year, we had to move people up from the midfield and make them forwards. With Whitney and Krystal we have two players who are forwards and are used to the position."
Strick, last year's team captain, will return to anchor the defense, while sophomores Amanda and Abbie West, of Andover, will also be back to help defend the Wildcat goal.
"Besides Britt, we'll have (Amanda and Abbie) and we're hoping they can match what they did in the second half of last season and boost their confidence," Houser said.
While depth may be a concern, ability and experience should make huge differences for this year's squad.
"We've still only got 18 on our roster, so we're not very deep, but from the people Nate has brought in, we're going to be a lot faster this year than we were last year," Strick said. "Also, the freshmen we had last year have more experience going into this year and that will help us a lot."
Aug. 27 -- Alumni scrimmage, 11 a.m.
Aug. 30 -- at Park University, Parkville, Mo., 7 p.m.
Sept. 4 -- vs. Morningside College, 3 p.m.
Sept. 14 -- at Ottawa University, Ottawa, 3 p.m.
Sept. 17 -- at Northwestern Oklahoma State, Alva, Okla., 6 p.m.
Sept. 24 -- vs. Graceland University, 3 p.m.
Sept. 25 -- vs. Culver-Stockton College, 1 p.m.
Sept. 29 -- at Missouri Baptist, St. Louis, Mo., 7 p.m.
Sept. 30 -- at University of Mobile, St. Louis, Mo. 7 p.m.
Oct. 4 -- vs. William Jewell College, 2 p.m.
Oct. 8 -- at Newman University, Wichita, 2 p.m.
Oct. 9 -- at Central Methodist, Fayette, Mo., 1 p.m.
Oct. 12 -- at Avila University, Kansas City, Mo., 2 p.m.
Oct. 15 -- at Lindenwood University, St. Charles, Mo., 6 p.m.
Oct. 18 -- at MidAmerica Nazarene University, Olathe, 2 p.m.
Oct. 22 -- at Bellevue University, Bellevue, Neb., 2 p.m.
Oct. 26 -- vs. Benedictine College, 2 p.m.
Oct. 29 -- vs. Missouri Valley College, 1 p.m.