Ohio Wesleyan senior goalkeeper J.P. Baughman was officially named the NCAA Division III statistical champion for goals-against average for the 2019 men’s soccer season. He allowed 8 goals in 1623 minutes over 19 games for a goals-against average of 0.44.
“This achievement was the ultimate validation that I did my part this year,” said Baughman. “The individual awards are great, but just knowing I got to be part of a great team and contribute was an amazing feeling.”
This award was not on Baughman’s mind during the season and he has gone into each soccer season at Ohio Wesleyan mentally prepared to do the same thing. For him, that was to play each game as if it was his last.
“Not every game was my best this year, but I feel like I did my job a majority of the time, which (coach) Jay (Martin) preaches,” said Baughman.
According to Baughman, Martin told his players to do their job and to not try to do more because that is when mistakes happen. Baughman is the last line of defense and he stated that if he makes constant mistakes, it could result in him giving up a goal to the opponent.
“What made my life a lot easier this year was the guys in front of me, mainly Joe Brush, Charles Branche III, Ryan Huelsman, and Isaiah Harris,” said Baughman.
Baughman believes that all 10 players on the field helped out tremendously on defense which made the Bishops one of the strongest defensive teams in the nation this year.
“However, the back 4 (players) were the key reason why the number of shots were low and they kept some shots from even happening due to their amazing play,” Baughman said.
Baughman credits his award to his teammates and their talent and hard work this past season.
“J.P. has been a 4-year starter and has been the core of our defense,” said Martin. “He is the glue that holds us together.”
Martin stated that Baughman has grown very much as a player, leader, student, and person the last 4 years.
“OWU contributed a lot to J.P. and J.P. has contributed a great deal to OWU,” said Martin.
The last player at OWU to be named the NCAA statistical champion for goals-against average was goalkeeper Paul Hendricks in 2011. Hendricks and Baughman are the only two OWU players to receive this award.
Baughman’s advice for his teammates is to never take for granted the time they have left at OWU playing for Martin.
“I can still remember my first day here and the time flew by,” said Baughman. “This was the best time of my life and I think the other seniors would say the same.”
Even though the team would have liked to have won the national championship, Baughman states that just getting to the final 16 validated that OWU is a successful program that is headed in the right direction.
He believes that the team should not be intimidated by the fact that 12 seniors are graduating.
“The 2020 team is more than capable of being successful and building off of what we accomplished in 2019,” said Baughman. “Above all, I cannot wait to follow the team and see what they do next season.”