BEREA, Ohio – Coming off an overtime victory on Saturday against Otterbein University, the Baldwin Wallace University women's soccer team has a tough road ahead to close out the regular season and hopefully gain a berth into the Ohio Athletic Conference Tournament.
With two games remaining against Ohio Northern University and Capital University, the top two teams in the OAC, the Yellow Jackets (11-5-1, 4-2-1 OAC) currently sit in a three-way tie for third place with the University of Mount Union and John Carroll University with the top six teams making it into the postseason tournament.
"The way the schedule breaks, we play the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the conference back to back," head coach Jim Wojtkun said. "We really have to work hard to earn points to qualify for the tournament. Anything can happen the way the standings shake out."
First up is Ohio Northern, the 2016 regular season champions. The No. 15 nationally ranked Polar Bears currently sit at the top of the conference with a 14-1-1 overall record and an unblemished 7-0 mark in the OAC.
"(Ohio) Northern has been a consistently solid team in the conference for a long time," Wojtkun said. "Their level of success extended over time and their ability to recruit high level players is really what we want this program to be. I can't argue with our results this year, I'm very pleased with where we're at, but we'd like to get to the next step. Northern is that level we aspire to. We'd like to qualify for a national tournament relatively soon. To do that, we have to go through Northern. Let's start this year."
Capital will prove be the final test on Friday night. Sitting second in the OAC at 7-7-1 overall and 5-2 in conference, the Crusaders played a tough non-conference schedule to better prepare themselves for the difficult slate of opponents the OAC presents.
"Capital challenged themselves and played great teams in non-conference," Wojtkun said. "They've prepped themselves to be successful in conference. They had a tough loss on Saturday against Carroll which means this week will be full of fury for them. We have to step into their stadium where they're always tough and really work hard for a result."
Earning points this week will not be easy and Wojtkun will rely on every single one of his players to put in the effort needed to get the result the Yellow Jackets desire.
"The girls have to step up, not just one of them but everyone," Wojtkun said. "We've played a relatively deep roster all year and we won't stop now. The game is going to create moments where they can choose to be great or not to be great. We've asked them to choose to be great when the moment presents itself."
Plenty of season-defining moments will present themselves in the next few days and Wojktun is excited to see how his team will respond.
"When you're competitive, anything can happen," Wojtkun said.