BEREA, Ohio – First year Head Coach Jim Wojtkun looks to lead the Baldwin Wallace University women's soccer team to the top of the Ohio Athletic Conference in 2017.
Wojtkun was named head coach in June after spending 11 years as an assistant coach with the women's team. 2017 also marks the first time in 14 years that there will be separate head coaches for men's and women's soccer.
"I am very excited to work with this group of young women in my first season as head coach," Wojtkun said. "We have great senior leadership combined with talent and depth in every class and every position. It will be an absolute pleasure to work with the team and I am looking forward to helping them discover their potential."
In 2016, Baldwin Wallace posted a 12-9-1 overall record with a 5-4 mark in the conference, which earned them the No. 5 seed in the postseason tournament. After beating Otterbein 3-2 in the quarterfinals, the ladies fell to Ohio Northern 2-0 in the conference semifinals. Fifteen letterwinners and eight starters from last year's semifinal squad return to the team this year along with 11 freshmen who hope to have an immediate impact.
"We are excited about the dynamic of this freshmen class," Wojtkun said. "Collectively, this class complements the roster we have. They fit in personality wise. The talent is what brings them under our radar but the personality is what makes them fit. These guys are BW kids, not just BW soccer players."
Strong goalkeepers are nothing without a good defense and BW returns a talented veteran core of defenders that helped the team to a 1.12 goals against average a season ago. Led by senior Kori Miller (North Olmsted/Holy Name), senior Lauren Haynam (Minerva) and junior Bri Osborne (Cincinnati/Batavia), the Yellow Jackets will prove to be formidable on defense once again.
Sophomores Courtney Cofer (Norton), Angelica Rahe (Brook Park/Berea-Midpark), freshmen Morgan Gray (Dublin/Scioto), Bella Szymanski (Cuyahoga Falls/Norton), Josie Fenn (Pittsburgh, Pa./Shaler Area), Kourtney Marzenski (Parma/Valley Forge) and Cydney Granneman (Avon, Ind.) will all gain valuable experience on defense this season under the guidance of Miller, Haynam and Osborne.
Last year's top goal scorer junior Rachel Bender (Massillon/Jackson) will look to build on a stellar 2016 season that featured 19 goals and 10 assists for a team-leading 48 points and a first team All-OAC selection. After finishing last year second on the team in assists with seven, senior forward Courtney Schutz (Mentor) will pair with Bender to form a potent Yellow Jacket offense.
Senior Jacquelyn Brown (Tallmadge), juniors Bess Massad (Bay Village/Magnificat), Marissa Fabrizi (Brunswick), sophomore Leaya Armstead (New Albany/Gahanna Lincoln), freshmen Kasi Didion (Sandusky/Perkins) and Olivia Muldoon (Middleburg Heights/Berea-Midpark) will all look to contribute to the Yellow Jacket offense this season as well.
Seniors Anna Poptic (Dublin/Jerome) and Alex Elliott (Blacklick/IMG Academy) return to the middle of the field to also add depth to a balanced offensive attack. Elliott finished 2016 second on the team in goals scored with 10 while Poptic contributed three goals and two assists.
Rounding out the roster are fellow midfielders senior Jenny Burdick (Chesterfield, Va./Matoaca), junior Cassandra Waickman (Stow/Stow-Munroe Falls), sophomores Kenna Poptic (Dublin/Jerome), Claire Cuthbertson (Berlin Heights/Edison), freshmen Kenna Stones (Dresden/Tri-Valley), Kayla Webb (Brunswick), Kaitlin McGuire (Gibsonia, Pa./Pine-Richland) and Alex Guido (Macomb, Mich./Eisenhower) who will all prove to be stiff competition at the midfielder position.
The Yellow Jackets will open the season on Friday, September 1, when the team travels to Erie, Pennsylvania, to compete in the Herb Lauffer Memorial Tournament hosted by Penn St.-Behrend. BW will take on Fredonia St. (N.Y.) at 7 p.m in its first game. The team's first home game will be Wednesday, September 13, against Case Western Reserve University while conference play will open on Friday, September 29, when BW travels to Marietta College to take on the Pioneers.