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Bedford’s Bauer, part of UNH’s in-state men’s soccer movement, earns All-American status

  • University of New Hampshire Josh Bauer accepts the trophy for being named Most Outstanding Player of the America East Tournament after the Wildcats defeated the University of Maryland-Baltimore County, 5-0, on Nov. 11 at Wildcat Stadium in Durham. Bauer was named a Second Team All-American last week, becoming just the fourth player in program history to earn All-American recognition. MEGHAN MURPHY—University of New Hampshire

  • University of New Hampshire sophomore Josh Bauer moves the ball up the field against Albany during an Oct. 5 game in Durham that the Wildcats won in double overtime, 1-0. Bauer, who is from Bedford, was named Second Team All-American last week, becoming just the fourth player in program history to earn that recognition. Bauer, who went to Bedford High, was also named the America East Defensive Player of the Year and the Most Outstanding Player of the America East Tournament. MEGHAN MURPHY / University of New Hampshire

  • University of New Hampshire sophomore Josh Bauer keeps his eye on the ball at Wildcat Stadium in Durham. Bauer, who is from Bedford, was named Second Team All-American last week, becoming just the fourth player in program history to earn that recognition. Bauer, who went to Bedford High, was also named the America East Defensive Player of the Year and the Most Outstanding Player of the America East Tournament. MEGHAN MURPHY— University of New Hampshire



Monitor staff
Sunday, December 09, 2018

Three years ago, Josh Bauer thought he might not play soccer after graduating from Bedford High School. This week, the University of New Hampshire sophomore was named Second Team All-American.

“We definitely thought (Bauer) had big upside based off his frame and the way he moved, and that he wasn’t a full-time, year-round soccer guy, he played other sports in high school, we thought that was valuable, too,” UNH coach Marc Hubbard said. “But in terms of a redshirt and then playing two seasons and then being an All-American, I don’t know if we could have predicted that one.”

Bauer, a center back, couldn’t have predicted it either.

“To be honest, I was kind of surprised, I definitely did not anticipate or expect that at all,” Bauer said of the All-American recognition. “But I’m very happy to receive that, it’s an incredible honor, and I’m thankful for my coaches and my teammates who put me in a position to earn it.”

Bauer is a biomedical science major, a pre-med track at UNH, and he considered focusing solely on academics in college. But after assessing things during his redshirt year, Bauer decided he could handle the combined workload of rigorous academic pursuit and D-I college athletics. And now he’s just the fourth Wildcat to earn All-American status, joining Bob Black (1976), Mike Veneto (1993, 1994) and Robin Schmidt (2017), one of Bauer’s teammates on last year’s UNH team.

Bauer started all 18 games this season for the Wildcats, who finished 12-4-2, won the first America East conference championship in program history, advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the third time ever and ranked fifth in the country in goals-against average at 0.538 per game. Bauer was at the heart of that defense and was named the America East Defensive Player of the Year in addition to being named the Most Outstanding Player of the America East Tournament, All-Northeast Region, First Team All-America East and Second Team All-American.

“The individual accolades are nice, but I’m happier with the America East trophy that we got as a team, that was the biggest thing this year,” Bauer said.

“I think with team success comes these awards, but he’s just one of these guys who keeps improving and has a really big upside athletically and he just keeps working at becoming a better soccer player,” Hubbard said. “It’s definitely well-deserved and he has become a steady force for us back there.”

The improvement for Bauer this season came with the ball at his feet. Hubbard asks his center backs to play out from the back instead of just booting the ball down the field, and this season Bauer stepped into the lead distribution role in addition to scoring four goals (tied for second on the team) and finishing with 10 points (third on the team).

“Last year I relied more on the people around me. My center back partner last year was a grad student, also from New Hampshire, Willis Griffith (from Amherst and Souhegan High), and I learned a lot from him, especially his distribution and with him being comfortable on the ball,” Bauer said. “So just watching him and having him next to me helped me a great amount with my approach towards this year. I kind of knew with him being gone I’d have to step up and take that role off his hands, and I think that I was able to do that to some extent.”

The tradition of in-state center backs at UNH might continue with a local player, Concord High’s Liam Bennett. The senior was named All-New England this year, was a two-time First Team Division I choice, helped the Crimson Tide to D-I titles in 2015 and 2017, was a four-year starter for Concord (the last three years at center back) and has verbally committed to UNH. Like Bauer, Bennett has good size, strength and athleticism, and also like Bauer, Bennett played his club soccer with Global Premier Soccer out of Bedford.

Bennett has the physical tools, passion and commitment needed to succeed at the D-I collegiate level, but it will still take him some time to make that leap, as Bauer knows.

“I know Liam, and I would say that the transition from New Hampshire high school, public school soccer to coming to the Division I level is a large step, if I’m being honest,” Bauer said. “The level is far better here, obviously, than it is in high school, and I knew it would be difficult and intense when I came in. So I would just say to Liam be ready and be ready to work your butt off because it’s definitely not going to be easy coming in and adjusting.”

Bauer and Bennett are part of the in-state movement that Hubbard, who is from Durham, has brought to the UNH program. That movement includes two more Concord products – redshirt freshman midfielder Chris Pinkham and junior goalie Dylan Thomson.

“Chris is another guy who made big leaps in his first year after coming off an injury that he had in his first preseason game,” Hubbard said. “He was getting into games later in the year in tight situations, so that spoke to how far he’s come. And from Dylan’s standpoint he was able to get into the (America East) championship game, so it was a great way to cap off all the hard work he’s put in this season.”

(Tim O’Sullivan can be reached at 369-3341 or tosullivan@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @timosullivan20)