BEREA, Ohio – The Baldwin Wallace University men's soccer team and Head Coach Reid Ayers are aiming for success in the 2017 season and in the Ohio Athletic Conference.
Ayers returns for his 16th year at the helm after leading the Yellow Jackets to a 6-13 season and a 3-6 conference record last year. Joining him will be 16 letterwinners and eight starters from the previous season while also recruiting 10 freshmen to contribute to the team's success.
"We gained valuable experience last year and are looking to build on that this fall," Ayers said. "We have spent a lot of time early in the preseason on the field and in the classroom, establishing habits and processes that will allow us to play at our best. The schedule is very difficult but I am hoping those challenges will help us when we begin conference play in October. We have a strong core of experienced players and leaders and I am counting on them to help educate our younger players."
After a stellar freshman campaign that earned the OAC Freshman Player of the Year award, a second-team All-OAC selection and an Ohio Collegiate Soccer Association (OCSA) All-Ohio NCAA Division III third-team nod, sophomore Danny Ruple (Berea/Berea-Midpark) returns to build on his team-leading eight goals and six assists from last year. Fellow forwards juniors Logan Davis (Hinckley/Medina Highland) and Ryan Hassell (Southampton, Bermuda/Western Reserve Academy) also look to capitalize on strong 2016 seasons that featured five goals each.
Senior Nicholas Bernard (Cleveland Heights), sophomores Cole McDaniel (West Liberty/West Liberty-Salem), Cannon Dees (Berea/Berea-Midpark), freshmen Dan Boyes (Smithville), Michael Colabianchi (North Royalton), Owen Feeley (Elma, N.Y./Iroquois) and Michael Snowball (Pittsburgh, Pa./ Fox Chapel) will all contribute to the Yellow Jacket offense this season.
In the midfield, junior Kurt Raney (Mentor) returns after a career-high three goals, tying for the team lead in assists with six and being named BW's Co-Most Valuable Player for the 2016 season. Joining him will be sophomore Timmy Jonas (Fairview Park/St. Edward) who played in 19 games last year, finishing with two goals and one assist on seven shots on goal.
Junior Academic All-OAC selection Joey Rini (Vermillion), Nick Principe (Galena/Olentangy), Michael Somody (North Canton/Hoover), sophomores Rafael Davalos (Kettering/Alter), Ben Feuer (Youngstown/Canfield), Joey Geither (Parma/Normandy), freshmen Ryan Fox (Bloomfield Hills, Mich.), Bryce Posner (Aurora), Jacob Rahe (Brook Park/Berea-Midpark), Tyler Thompson (Grafton/Midview) and Austin McGlothern (Des Moines, Wash./Mount Rainier) will all bring an added depth to the midfield this season.
Locking down the Yellow Jacket defense will be veteran defenders senior David Elsen (Cleves/St. Xavier), junior JT Taubeneck (Parma/Normandy) and junior Garrett McCue (Bourbonnais, Ill./Bradley-Bourbonnais Community).
Junior Academic All-OAC selection Jeremy Foust (Strongsville), sophomores Blake Knox (North Canton/Hoover), Jake Woodruff (Willow Grove, Pa./Upper Dublin), Jeffrey Elder-Hoff (Centerville), Deven Strauss (Mentor) and freshman Steven Stepka (Alpharetta, Ga./Chattahoochee) will all compete for time on defense.
Three different goalkeepers will be vying for time in the net this season. Sophomore Patrick Mehal (Richfield/Revere) started nine games at goalie, notching 72 saves while only allowing 18 goals for a 1.66 goals against average and led the Yellow Jackets to four of the team's six wins. Senior Ryan Asbury (Cincinnati/Turpin) and junior Academic All-OAC selection Brian Haviland (Grasonville, Md./Kent Island) will also provide some stiff competition for the starting goalkeeper position.
The Yellow Jackets will open the season on Friday, September 2, when they travel to Erie, Pennsylvania, to participate in the Herb Lauffer Memorial Tournament hosted by Penn St.-Behrend. BW will play Geneseo (N.Y.) at 2:30 p.m. in the season-opening tournament. OAC play opens on Saturday, September 30, when the Yellow Jackets host Marietta College.