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2015 BW Men's Soccer Season Outlook

2015 BW Men's Soccer Season Outlook
By: Eric Kwiatkowski '17

BEREA, Ohio --
 The Baldwin Wallace University men's soccer team and veteran Head Coach Reid Ayers will be looking to compete for a shot at the 2015 Ohio Athletic Conference title. Despite losing eight lettermen from last season, Ayers is confident his team can contend for an OAC title.

Coming off a summer trip to Italy, Ayers is hoping his seven seniors and eight returning starters provide the leadership and spark that the Yellow Jackets need to return on top of the OAC hierarchy.  BW finished 10-10-1 overall and second in the OAC at 6-2-1 a year ago.

Ayers' squad will be well balanced and combine both young and experienced players. 

"Our trip to Italy was a fantastic trip in which the group was able to experience an athletic and social culture different from what they routinely experience," said Ayers. "We chose to play the toughest competition we could find in order to challenge and develop our players for a successful season this fall at BW."

This season the attack will be built through a midfield, featuring senior Nick Gallo (Richfield/ Revere) and junior J.J. Ball (North Olmsted). 

Gallo spent the entire 2014 season on the sidelines due to injury, and will utilize a medical red-shirt and return as a team-leader. Ball played in 19 games last season and had two assists. After coming off of an excellent offseason, Ball looks to have a much bigger impact on the field this season. 

In addition in the midfield, look for junior Academic All-OAC student-athlete Patrick O'Malley (Sheridan, Ind./Westfield) to play a key role in the Yellow Jacket midfield. He was named as BW's 2014 Defensive Player of the Year.

Four other players also return and hope to contribute either at forward or in the midfield. They include juniors Craig Wallace (Boxford, Mass./ Tilton School) and Jared Abston (Strongsville) and sophomores Jose Solis-Flores (Westfield, Ind./ Westfield) and David Elsen (Cleves/St. Xavier). Solis-Flores was last season's "Rookie of the Year".

On defense, look for senior Zach Smith (Parma/Normandy) and junior Academic All-OAC player Adam Grove (Indianapolis, Ind./ North Central) to lead the way. Smith moves from the front to the back. Last season, he played in 20 of 21 games and led BW in scoring with six goals and two assists for 14 points. Look for Grove to bounce back after playing in just nine games last fall due to injury. The duo brings experience to the back line.

In addition on defense, look for junior Brandon Lumsden (Strongsville), who played 18 games last season, and Elsen to contribute in 2015.

In goal, senior Zach Haynes (Medina) will return between the pipes after appearing in eight matches last season and compiling a 3-4 record. Haynes allowed 1.97 goals per game and will look to provide senior leadership to the back line. 

The Yellow Jackets open the season on Tuesday September 1 when they travel to Bluffton, Ohio and play Bluffton University. BW opens up OAC play when they host Muskingum on Saturday October 3. The Jackets look to compete for their first OAC title.