The Baldwin Wallace University men's soccer program expects the 2019 season to be exceptional. With a bevy of upperclassmen and starters returning, Head Coach Reid Ayers, who will begin his 18th season at the University, will be spending time this winter, spring and summer recruiting more top student-athletes who will push his veterans to new heights.
"Each season, our goal is to have a chance to win an Ohio Athletic Conference Championship, advance to the OAC Tournament and earn a spot in the NCAA Division III National Tournament," said Reid Ayers, who completed his 17th season in 2018-2019.
BW Plans to Battle for an OAC Title and NCAA Berth in 2019
The Yellow Jackets plan to battle for both the OAC regular season and tournament titles in 2019 and hopes to return to the NCAA Division III National Tournament. Leading the way will be all-time leading scorer and senior Academic All-American forward Danny Ruple (Berea). He enters his final campaign with 41 career goals and 23 assists and a school career-record 105 points.
BW's Last NCAA Tourney Trip
In 2011, the Yellow Jackets compiled a school record for wins as they recorded a solid, 16-6 record and advanced to the semifinals of the OAC Tournament. The Yellow Jackets also recieved an At-Large bid into the Division III NCAA Tournament. The BW's first NCAA appearence in school history. Highlighting the season was the selection of senior Carlin Vandendriessche (Medina) as BW's Male Athlete of the Year.
BW outscored its opponents, 52-24, and recorded six shutouts. In addition, three players were named to the All-OAC squad and four others were named to the Academic All-OAC team. Vandendriessche, was tabbed first-team All-OAC choice for the second time in his career and earned second-team All-Great Lakes Region accolades. He was also named OSCA's All-Ohio first-team.
Building the Program Into a Winner From the Ground Up Has Been Ayers' Strategy
After a rebuilding first year at the College in 2002, Ayers and his Yellow Jacket coaching staff have taken the men's soccer team to new heights the past fourteen seasons. The men finished with a 12-5-1 record in 2003, set a school record for wins with 14 in 2004 and tied that mark in 2005. In 2006, BW had a 13-win campaign and were ranked 10th in the nation by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA).
In 2008, Ayers led his team to its highest-ever ranking by the NSCAA when it was tabbed as high as seventh nationally in Division III and finished with a solid 12-6-1 overall record. In 2009, the Yellow Jackets followed up with an impressive 13-7-1 overall record and tied for the best OAC record (7-1-1) in program history. BW also reached the semifinal round of the OAC Tournament after defeating rival John Carroll University in round one.
"One of the first goals I set was for this program to foster a sense of tradition and excellence," continued Ayers. "The players have responded well to our challenges and we look to continue to improve year to year."
In 2009, BW placed four players on the first-team all OAC squad with goalkeeper Russ Mika '09 being named as the OAC Goalkeeper of the Year and as a first-team ESPN Academic All District IV student-athlete.
"We are extremely proud of our men's and women's soccer student-athletes and tradition of academic and athletic excellence," said Ayers. "It tells parents and young men and women who look at our program that we are seeking excellence in all areas. We hope that is a favorable trait."