BEREA, Ohio – The Baldwin Wallace University men's soccer team, led by 18th year head coach Reid Ayers have set high sights within the Ohio Athletic Conference, as the 2019 season is rapidly approaching this upcoming weekend.
Last season, BW finished with an overall record of 7-10-2, including a 2-6-1 mark in OAC play. Ayers returns 12 letterwinners, which will include seven seniors, five juniors, and 10 sophomores. The Yellow Jackets are also welcoming 15 freshmen and four transfer students.
"We have an experienced group," Ayers began. "I think the core of the team that we have coming back is really talented and they've continued to grow over their time at BW. We're going to need them to play like experienced players and become effective leaders for our younger guys." With no shortage of newcomers this fall, Ayers believes the 19 unfamiliar faces can provide a timely impact for his squad. "We're also very excited about our younger guys coming into the program. It'll just be a matter of how quickly they can get acclimated to college soccer and how quickly they can provide depth to our team. We want to make sure that the quality we have at every position can also be backed up by quality reserves, so we can stay fresher and become more competitive in conference play."
The BW attack is pleased to welcome back senior three-time All-OAC selection Danny Ruple (Berea/Berea-Midpark). The two-time Academic All-American forward notched a team-leading 14 goals, 10 assists, and 38 points in 2018, to go along with a single-season school record 85 shots, 38 of which hit on target. The Yellow Jackets all-time career leader in points will also get some assistance in the scoring department from senior forwards, Joey Geither (Parma/Normandy) and Cannon Dees (Berea/Berea-Midpark), who contributed with 20 and 11 points last season, respectively. Joining last season's top three scorers at the forward position are returning junior Michael Colabianchi (North Royalton), and sophomores Matt Begin (Springfield, Mass./Ludlow), Michael Douzos (Amherst/Firelands) and Tyler Gramsz (Jefferson). Incoming freshmen Shaheen Ghahremani (Streetsboro) and Jared Webb (Southfield, Mich./Brother Rice), along with junior transfer students Kemor Turner (Westmoreland, JAMAICA/Manning's) and Alex Wight (Arima, TRINIDAD & TOBAGO/Holy Cross College), will hope to make a prompt splash on offense as well.
Senior and junior veterans Rafael Davalos (Kettering/Alter) and Bryce Posner (Aurora) will aim to lead a young group of BW midfielders, hoping to facilitate offensive plays while neutralizing opponents on the defensive end. Assisting in the center portion of the field will be returning junior Owen Feeley (Elma, N.Y./Iroquois), and sophomores Dylan Keeling (Rocky River), Josh Hadden (Perry), Jason Lambert (Baden, Pa./Ambridge), Attila Nagy Jr. (Lakewood) and Nick Surowicz (Medina/Highland). New additions to this year's squad through the middle include freshmen Brandon Garibotti (Berea/Berea-Midpark), Brad Lepin (Seville/Cloverleaf), and Laye Souare (Ann Arbor, Mich./Huron), as well as junior transfer student David Quayle (Avon/Lutheran West).
After successful rookie campaigns for the Yellow Jackets, sophomore All-OAC selection Trevor Hamm (Strongsville) and sophomore Reed Watkins (Munster, Ind.) will look to guide this season's crop of defenders. Also safeguarding the latter segment of the pitch will be returning senior defenders Jake Woodruff (Willow Grove, Pa./Upper Dublin) and Blake Knox (North Canton/Hoover), as well as junior Dan Boyes (Smithville). Newcomers poised to make immediate impacts on the back end include freshmen Zach Hoover (Chagrin Falls), Grant Klapwijk (Hinckley/Highland), and Alex Klek (Olmsted Falls), including junior transfer student Armand Whitt (Birmingham, Ala./Clay-Chalkville).
Senior Patrick Mehal (Richfield/Revere) will be the lone returning goalkeeper for BW this season. Mehal was between the pipes for the majority of last season's contests for the Yellow Jackets, ultimately finishing with a record of 4-7-2 to go along with a 2.65 goals against average and .621 save percentage. Freshmen keepers JT Brenneman (Willoughby/Wickliffe), Nolan Kellogg (Strongsville), Nate Shepard (Olmsted Falls/Strongsville), and Matt Weaver (Ontario), eagerly awaiting to begin their collegiate careers for BW, will compete for playing time as well.
The Yellow Jackets begin their 2019 season on the road, as they take on Chatham University on Saturday, August 31, at 2:30 pm at the Herb Lauffer Memorial Tournament in Erie, Pennsylvania. BW's home opener takes place on Saturday, September 17 at 7:00 pm against non-conference opponent Denison University. OAC play will begin against Capital University on Saturday, October 5 at 7:00 pm in Bexley.