14 Games…Where have they gone?
It’s hard to believe that it was 10 weeks ago that 30 members of the Baker men’s soccer team all arrived for the first day of pre-season training camp. In temperatures reaching a melting 105 farenheit, the look of disappointment and fear of what was to come was evident on every player’s face. For anyone who has been on a sports team, it safe to say that pre-season is regarded as pure hell. The fact that you know you are going to go to places you didn’t know existed, to push the pain barrier further than you ever thought it could go is pretty jarring. And for those three weeks, you are literally praying for a natural disaster. The dream of no more suicides, no more “star drill”, push-ups until your arms feel like they could snap… But it never happens. But day by day something even more remarkable happens. New friendships are made, old friendships are re-kindled, and slowly those individuals turn into a team.
Looking back, it was worth it– the running until your lungs burned, waking up feel like an old man. I think this has been the fittest I have been during my university career, and I think I can say the same for the rest of the lads. Watching other teams literally “crawl” off the field after playing us just goes to prove how hard they have to work when they play the Baker Boys.
But where oh where have the past 14 games gone? I never thought as soon as our games began that time would go so quickly. Of course there have been ups and downs. Making the trip to Oklahoma on the first weekend of the season and coming back with two victories was a great way to start the campaign. But boy, how we were quickly reminded how fickle soccer can be. We dropped a game 2-0 to Rockhurst, where we simply didn’t perform, followed by a 1-0 defeat to nationally ranked Hastings college. I think we all began to ask questions of ourselves and knew we needed to do something quick. Fair play to the lads, in the next five games we won 4, while drawing the other one. A very tough 2-1 loss against conference rival William Jewell hurt all the lads, especially as in the next game, due to some very very questionable officiating, we were forced to play with 10 men for 65mins and could only manage a 1-1 draw with MidAmerica Nazerene.
But then came arguably at the time, one of the biggest games of the season. BENEDICTINE away. Now any die-hard Baker fan will know that there is a level of hatred, that right i said hatred, between us and Benedictine. I remember freshman year when they beat us in a conference game and then dared to dance on our center circle and the “BU” logo as if they had just won the national championship! Well this year it was our turn, after a close game which went into OT. Yours faithfully managed (with the help of the cross-bar) to score a free kick to give us the win. Finally after the assistant referee verified it went over the line, the celebrations began. I have never seen 20 players run to me so quickly EVER! It was a fantastic team effort, and singing “Baker boys we are here…” on their center circle, looking straight at their fans… has to be my favorite college soccer moment. It will take a lot to beat it!
Although in the next game we simply never turned up against a very sharp and, may I say, theatrical Park side, a great 3-2 win against Missouri Valley, with a stunning winning goal by my “Little” set piece buddy Ethan “EB” Bauer, and some AMMMMMAZING (said like Steven Stewart) celebrations from Nate Byarly who was strumming his guitar all night long, made up for the previous loss.
And there we are, that is our season up to date. OK, I didn’t give you the short version, but I can honestly say I wouldn’t want to go through the same journey again without the same 20+ players, men and more importantly friends that I had the honor to experience it with.
Only three regular season games left before playoffs! Try and come out to our last regular home game this Saturday, Oct.23 against Lindenwood. Kickoff from Liston Stadium is scheduled for 7 p.m.