BEREA, Ohio – A solid group of veteran players will give the Baldwin Wallace University men's soccer team and longtime head coach Reid Ayers the momentum needed to reach new heights in the Ohio Athletic Conference in 2018.
Heading into his 17th season at the helm, Ayers returns 16 letterwinners and eight starters return from last year's team that posted a 5-12-2 record and a 1-7-1 mark in the OAC. He also adds 17 new faces to the field this season in addition to his seven seniors, 11 juniors and six sophomores.
"Overall, I'm excited about the group we have," Ayers said. "The returning players have embraced our standards and the incoming players fit into our group culture, creating an excellent synergy. Even with a relatively young roster, most of our team has gained valuable varsity playing time, which we hope to capitalize on this fall. Overall, our players have worked very hard taking advantage of excellent summer playing environments building on a productive spring, which should prepare them well for the upcoming season. This group seems like BW guys and I am excited to get the season rolling."
Returning to lead the offense will be junior two-time All-OAC and Academic All-OAC forward Danny Ruple (Berea/Berea-Midpark). The reigning OAC Forward of the Year had a school-record setting sophomore campaign with 19 goals and 45 points, which led both the Yellow Jackets and the conference. Junior Academic All-OAC selection Joey Geither (Parma/Normandy) also joins the forward rank as the team's third-leading scorer, netting three goals and five assists for 11 points as a midfielder last season.
Senior forward Logan Davis (Hinckley/Medina Highland), junior Academic All-OAC forward Cole McDaniel (West Liberty/West Liberty-Salem) and junior Academic All-OAC forward Cannon Dees (Berea/Berea-Midpark) combined for three goals and three assists a season ago and will look to add even more to the Yellow Jacket offense this year.
Also looking to add to the offense are senior forward Ryan Hassell (Southampton, Bermuda/Western Reserve Academy), senior forward Nick Principe (Galena/Olentangy) and sophomore forward Michael Colabianchi (North Royalton). Joining them are freshmen forwards Matt Begin (Springfield, Mass./Ludlow), Michael Douzos (Amherst/Firelands), Tyler Gramsz (Jefferson) and Peter Petri (Toronto, Ontario/Senator O'Connor College).
In the midfield, junior Kurt Raney (Mentor) returns from an injury that kept him out for the entire 2017 season and is joined by junior Academic All-OAC midfielder Rafael Davalos (Kettering/Alter) and sophomore midfielder Bryce Posner (Aurora). Named BW's Co-Rookie of the Year, Posner had a solid freshman season with three goals and four assists for 10 points, good enough to be the team's fourth-leading scorer, while Davalos contributed career-highs of two goals, two assists and six points of his own.
Rounding out the midfielders are sophomore Owen Feeley (Elma, N.Y./Iroquois), freshman Josh Hadden (Perry), freshman Dylan Keeling (Rocky River), freshman Jason Lambert (Baden, Pa./Ambridge), freshman Attila Nagy Jr. (Lakewood), freshman Nick Surowicz (Medina/Highland), freshman Matt Vrana (St. Clair Shores, Mich./Lakeview) and freshman Donald Wilkin (Bolingbrook, Ill./Lisle Benet Academy).
Three experienced defenders in senior JT Taubeneck (Parma/Normandy), senior Academic All-OAC selection Jeremy Foust (Strongsville) and junior Jake Woodruff (Willow Grove, Pa./Upper Dublin) will secure the back line after each appearing in all 19 games last season.
Battling for that final defender spot will be senior Academic All-OAC selection Joey Rini (Vermillion), junior Jae Hoff (Centerville), junior Deven Strauss (Mentor), junior Blake Knox (North Canton/Hoover), sophomore Austin McGlothern (Des Moines, Wash./Mount Rainier), sophomore Dan Boyes (Smithville), freshman Trevor Hamm (Strongsville), freshman Alex Hutchinson (Middlefield/Cardinal), freshman Hunter Jepsen (Canton/South), freshman Matt McLane (Upper Sandusky) and freshman Reed Watkins (Munster, Ind.).
Junior goalkeeper Patrick Mehal (Richfield/Revere) will mind the net after making nine starts last season, posting a team-high 52 saves and a team-low 2.29 goals against average and recording the team's only shutout. Three other goalies will also battle for time between senior Academic All-OAC selection Brian Haviland (Grasonville, Md./Kent Island), sophomore Steven Stepka (Alpharetta, Ga./Chattahoochee) and freshman Corey Jones (Wakeman/Firelands).
The Yellow Jackets begin the 2018 season at the annual Herb Lauffer Memorial Tournament, hosted by Penn State Behrend College in Erie, Pennsylvania, with the first game coming against Geneseo (N.Y.) on Aug. 31 at 7:30 p.m. The first home game will be Tuesday, Sept. 4, against the College of Wooster while OAC action opens up on Saturday, Sept. 29 when the Yellow Jackets host Capital University.