BEREA, Ohio – After wrapping up the non-conference portion of the schedule with a 2-0 win over Grove City (Pa.), the Baldwin Wallace University women's soccer team is ready to head into Ohio Athletic Conference play.
The Yellow Jackets are in the midst of a five-game winning streak in which they have earned five consecutive shutouts, not allowing a goal since the 21st minute of their 2-0 loss to Buffalo St. (N.Y.) on Sept. 10.
"We had a conversation after the Buffalo weekend about what we wanted to accomplish and how we wanted to play," Head Coach Jim Wojtkun said. "I think the women stepped up and started to implement that but, more importantly, they started to believe in themselves. Confidence is a good thing."
A key to the five consecutive shutouts has been solid play by the Yellow Jackets' back line. Anchored by senior Academic All-OAC defender Lauren Haynam (Minerva), junior Academic All-OAC defender Bri Osborne (Cincinnati/Batavia), senior Academic All-OAC defender Jenny Burdick (Chesterfield, Va./Matoaca) and assisted by freshmen defenders Josie Fenn (Pittsburgh, Pa./Shaler Area), Kaitlin McGuire (Gibsonia, Pa./Pine-Richland), Morgan Gray (Dublin/Scioto) and Cydney Granneman (Avon, Ind.), BW has only allowed seven total shots on goal across the last five games.
"We continue to work on our defense and our defensive shape in practice so we recognize the importance of that," Wojtkun commented. "We've played multiple players on the back line and that's positive because they continue to be able to work with each other. They're comfortable, and I think that comfort level with each other and the capacity to trust each other makes a big difference."
Coming off a third straight loss to Buffalo St. two weeks ago, the team knew it had a tough test taking on Case Western Reserve University. The Yellow Jackets and the Spartans played a 0-0 tie into the 80th minute until freshman midfielder Kayla Webb (Brunswick) scored the game's only goal, which was enough to get BW back into the win column.
"Collectively, we showed a lot of poise, had a lot of energy and a lot of determination," Wojtkun said about the Case game. "Winning that game late and holding on to keep the shutout was really an important part of the process. Case set the stage of who we are and who we could be in terms of our ability to compete with really good teams."
Looking ahead to the OAC opponents that make up the rest of the Yellow Jackets schedule, Wojtkun knows that it's not going to be an easy road to get his team into the playoffs.
"I think the OAC is as good as a conference as I've seen since I've been at BW," Wojtkun said. "Every game is going to be a Titanic struggle because every team is capable of beating every other team in the conference. It will be important for us to battle every day and mentally be prepared to play in a tough match every time we get on the field."
The Yellow Jackets will open up OAC on the road on Friday, Sept. 29, when they travel to take on Marietta College at 4 p.m. before returning home to host the University of Mount Union and the OAC top scorer in Nicole Lanese on Wednesday, Oct. 4, at 7 p.m. on Tressel Field inside George Finnie Stadium.