BEREA, Ohio –The Baldwin Wallace University women's soccer team faced off against some quality opponents last week, including competing in the Bengals Classic hosted by Buffalo State (N.Y.) College, and finished the week with an 0-3 record.
The Bengals Classic wrapped up a period of five games in the span of eight days for the Yellow Jackets, a grueling stretch for any team.
"To play 5 games in 8 days is tough but it creates a measure of what the team is made of," Head Coach Jim Wojtkun said. "I think we showed some mental strength after going down. The results weren't what we expected but I think it's a great learning experience and sets a level for what we need to do in terms of performance. Playing the teams we played will help us get ready for conference play down the road."
On Tuesday, BW struggled to find a rhythm in a 3-1 loss to non-conference opponent Oberlin College. Senior Academic All-Ohio Conference defender Lauren Haynam (Minerva) scored the lone goal for the Yellow Jackets off an assist from junior All-OAC forward Rachel Bender (Massillon/Jackson).
Heading up to Buffalo, New York, over the weekend, the Yellow Jackets kicked off the Bengals Classic against Rutgers University-Newark (N.J.) with a 2-1 overtime loss. Bender notched her second goal of the season in the 16th minute off an assist from senior All-OAC forward Courtney Schutz (Mentor). Rutgers-Newark evened up the score with a penalty kick goal in the 70th minute and sank the game-winning shot just one minute into overtime.
BW looked to rebound from the loss on Sunday when the Yellow Jackets took on host Buffalo State. The Bengals held an early 1-0 advantage after scoring in the 12th minute. Bender tried to even up the score with a penalty kick three minutes later but could not convert. Buffalo State added to the lead in the 21st minute and sealed the 2-0 victory.
"We played some very physical teams that worked hard to use that physicality to disrupt how we play," Wojtkun said. "We need to learn how to deal with it and play quicker. It's a great learning experience for us. You'd like to learn and win but we're still learning. We're putting ourselves in a situation where we're going to get there."
Looking to the week ahead, BW will host crosstown rival Case Western Reserve University for the home opener on Wednesday night, September 13, at 7 p.m.
"Case is always a tough game," Wojtkun said. "Case plays in a very tough conference and they're always competitive in their conference, which means we definitely have to bring our A game. We have to be ready to play quickly, be physical to adjust to their speed both on the ball and athletically. It will be an enjoyable battle."
After playing the first five games of the season on the road, the ladies are looking forward to the opportunity to play in front of their home crowd.
"It's nice to have a situation where we're comfortable, in a place we're comfortable at, where our players aren't rushing around," Wojtkun said. "They can devote themselves to just worrying about playing the game and not having to worry about travel or what's going on or getting out of class. It'll be a good situation for us. It's always fun to play at home, in front of home fans. Finnie's a great place to play. It's always worth extra energy being home."
Following Wednesday's game against Case, the Yellow Jackets will hit the road once again to travel to Bluffton to take on Bluffton University Saturday, September 16, at 1 p.m.
"Traveling and being on the road again is tough," Wojtkun said. "We need to make sure we're focused on our game and make sure we're focused on how we play. We'll spend our time in training this week getting physically ready and mentally ready and some game-specific activities so we're prepared."