Season Preview: Baldwin Wallace Men’s Soccer Team Ready for More Success in 2009
BEREA, OHIO -- The 2009 Baldwin Wallace University men’s soccer team looks to build on a 12-win season from a year ago as Head Coach Reid Ayers returns 14 letterwinners and eight starters. The Yellow Jackets were ranked as high as seventh in the country in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) poll last season and will look to compete for the school’s first ever Ohio Athletic Conference crown and NCAA Tournament berth in 2009.
“I’m excited about our team,” noted Ayers, who enters his eighth season at The College and is the school’s winningest men’s coach with 79 victories. “We lost some good talent and leadership due to graduation but we have a bulk of our team returning and a great deal of experience to build on.”
BW returns three All-OAC players and one NSCAA All-Great Lakes Region performer in senior midfielder Andy Synk (Strongsville). He totaled an OAC-best nine assists a year ago.
Also back in the midfield will be Andy’s brother, senior Jim Synk (Strongsville), and juniors Jeff Grater (Stow/Stow-Munroe Falls) and Charlie Thompson (Huron). Both Jim Synk and Grater are returning starters that each scored twice in 2008. Thompson bounced back after missing all of 2007 to total four goals and an assist.
“We return numerous players in the midfield with good skill and experience,” said Ayers. “All of them have the ability to posses the ball well and go forward. I’m also looking for some of our younger players to emerge this year and play well in big games. ”
In the back, BW returns an all-conference defender in senior Cory Weidner (Rocky River) and a two-year starter and team captain in senior outside back Nate Smith (Ashland /Senior). Weidner was a second-team All-OAC pick and scored three goals, all in game-winning fashion, from his central defender spot in 2008. Smith brings a wealth of experience and leadership to the Jacket defense. He also had four assists in 2007.
In goal, senior Russ Mika (Medina/ Senior) will be back between the pipes after posting a 7-3-1 record with a 1.34 goals against average, two shutouts and 47 saves.
“We should be much better on defense this year with our seniors in the back and a senior goalkeeper,” noted Ayers. “I look for us to concede far fewer goals than we did last year and for the defense to be one of our strengths.”
Up front, both starting forwards return as sophomore Carlin Vandendriessche (Medina/ Senior) and junior Tyler Leister (Stow/Stow-Munroe Falls) combine to form a potent scoring duo. Vandendriessche had an outstanding freshman campaign, leading the team with 19 points and nine goals en route to second-team All-OAC honors. Leister has proven to be a formidable scoring threat as he added six goals and five assists in 2008 and has 14 goals and seven assists during his first two seasons in the Brown & Gold.
“I expect Tyler (Leister) and Carlin (Vandendriessche) to build on last year and continue to improve as goal scorers and playmakers for the offense,” said Ayers. “They both have great skill and the ability to become big time finishers.”
The Yellow Jackets begin the 2009 season on September 1 versus Adrian (Mich.) College on Tressel Field at The George Finnie Stadium in Berea at 7:00 p.m., in the nightcap of a men’s and women’s soccer doubleheader. BW begins OAC play with an October 3 match at Mount Union College in Alliance at noon.
FOR MORE BW SPORTS INFORMATION, please contact BW Sports Information Director Kevin Ruple by telephone at 440-826-2327, by FAX and 44-826-2329 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. TO CONTACT HEAD COACH REID AYERS, please call him at 440-826-3839, FAX him at 440-826-2192 or e-mail him at email@example.com.