With the atmosphere of Homecoming driving tensions and emotions to all-time highs Saturday, the Baker Univesrity men's soccer team added another notch to its belt, defeating the Lindenwood University Lions 4-3 at Liston Stadium.
The 'Cats went into the game without starting sophomore outside midfielder Ethan Bauer, but where Bauer left off last match, with his game-winning goal, his replacement, sophomore Laeth Hamil, picked up right away.
Hamil netted the first goal of the match within eight minutes of play on a ball from sophomore Odaine Sinclair.
"It was early in the game and we wanted to come out with a lot of energy again," Hamil said. "Getting the first goal was important."
Hamil's goal would be matched later in the half by Lindenwood's Victor Buchim.
The Lions would quickly come out in the second half to take the lead after 49 minutes of play, but the Wildcats refused to let the deficit affect the momentum of the game.
Only nine minutes after Lindenwood gained the lead, Sinclair, returning from a controversial suspension from a red card, made another big contribution, evening the score at 2-2 by taking a rebounded throw in and pushing it past the Lindenwood goalkeeper.
"I've been out for a while, and I really came out with the mindset of winning," Sinclair said.
For Baker, this was exactly the spark needed to close out the match.
Following Sinclair's goal, senior Matt Griffin gave the fans a memorable moment, booting a 40-yard free kick through Lindenwood's back line.
Only six minutes after Griffin's goal, junior Steven Stewart broke down the Lions' defense and put the icing on the cake for the Wildcats with the game-winning score.
Lindenwood would grab another goal with five minutes left in the match, but it was too little, too late for the Lions, and the score remained 4-3 in favor of the Wildcats.
Head coach Nate Houser was complimentary of Lindenwood's skill set, and proud of his team's mental resolve in the victory.
"Lindenwood is a program that has had a bunch of success on both sides and for us to stand up and stand our ground was really important for us," Houser said.
Baker is now 8-5-2 on the season with a record of 4-2-1 in the HAAC. The team has two conference games remaining before the HAAC postseason tournament.
The Wildcats will look to capitalize on their recent success as they take on Culver-Stockton College at 3 p.m. Saturday in Canton, Mo., before ending the regular season against Graceland University at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in Lamoni, Iowa.