The men's and women's soccer teams open their respective seasons this weekend against tough non-conference competition to prepare themselves to live up to the hype they have this season.
Baker's teams start their seasons against Southern Nazarene University and Oklahoma City University, just as they did last year. The women will play SNU at 1 p.m. Saturday in Bethany, Okla. and OCU at 11 a.m. Sunday in Edmond, Okla.
The men's games are scheduled to follow two hours after the starting times of the women's games.
"These games will be two very good tests early for both teams," head coach Nate Houser said.
In the HAAC preseason rankings, which were decided among the coaches in the conference, Baker was picked to finish second for both the men's and women's teams.
The women's team returns key position players in goalkeeper Maggie Dupes, forward Alix Schiraldi, midfielder Christine Janssens and defender Chelsea Dunn.
Despite losing to SNU 3-0 and OCU 2-0 last year, the women's team is confident that its first two games will be different from last year's games.
"I think already we've made changes in how hard we've worked this preseason so that we might see better results in these first two games from last year," Janssens said. "These two teams are very competitive every year and have been tough games every year we've played them."
Houser has emphasized to the women about how important it is to take steps forward throughout this season.
"I am really looking forward to this year's senior class dealing with expectation," Houser said.
The men's team also has high expectations this season and is looking to get off to a good start like it did last year. The men defeated both SNU and OCU 2-1 last year, with the victory against SNU coming in overtime.
"I think we are a little better at this point than we were last year," senior Matt Griffin said. "We are a lot more focused and I think we will go into these two games more ready to play. Those two games are back-to-back, but we expect the same results."
Houser expects the two games will have a track-meet-like pace to them again this year.
"We have to be ourselves," Griffin said. "Last season we kept to our goal for the start of the season, but deviated away at the end, but we have to take it game by game."