With the Wisconsin men's soccer team in the midst of its spring training schedule, UWBadgers.com caught up with first-year head coach Todd Yeagley to get his thoughts on the state of his new team. This is the third of four stories previewing the Badgers' spring season, which includes home games at Camp Randall Stadium on April 10 and April 15.
staffid=1074"> --> Todd Yeagley knew he was inheriting an experienced group when he took over as head coach of the Wisconsin mens soccer team.
The question was, is that a good thing or a bad thing
With nine returners who will be seniors when the 2009 season rolls around, getting the Badgers veterans to buy into a new system would be a must if Yeagley and his new staff hoped to put together a successful season in the fall.
It didnt take long to find an answer, however, and it has been those seniors leading the way for the Badgers so far during spring training.
You can look at it both ways, Yeagley said. Maybe theyd be stuck in their ways and wouldnt want to change, but from day one, theyve been very receptive to everything weve been trying to do.
Spring Preview Series
- sportid=122&storyid=17534"> --> Planting the Seeds for Success (April 1)
- sportid=122&storyid=17558"> --> Who, What, Where (April 3)
- sportid=122&storyid=17589"> --> No Lack of Leaders (April 6)
- Defensive by Design (April 8)
All seven of UWs returning starters are upperclassmen -- including six seniors -- and another senior, Brian Bultman, played in 16 games last season. Add in three underclassmen who each made at least five starts in 2008, and you have the makings of a very experienced club.
That experience has reduced the learning curve for the Badgers so far this spring, as Yeagley and his staff can focus more on teaching the fundamentals of a new system and less on the process of acclimating younger players to the college game.
Our goals this spring are based on working individually on getting the principles down on both sides of the ball and making improvements collectively, as well, he said. Overall Ive been extremely pleased with the older players in terms of their approach and how theyre setting the standard.
In the end, though, improving on last years 9-7-3 record -- which left UW just outside NCAA tournament consideration -- starts at the top with that large crop of seniors. Four of the teams top five scorers from last season will return for senior seasons in 2009, and Yeagley has been pleased with what hes seen from that group so far this spring.
From the seniors, its been what youd expect to see and then even more, Yeagley said. Weve been getting great performances from guys like athid=6004&deptid=122"> --> Brandon Miller who were going to count on to step up this year.
Miller was a key contributor for the Badgers last season, contributing three goals and five assists in his 18 starts. athid=5964&deptid=122"> --> Pablo Delgado was a major factor in UWs early-season success last year, scoring twice and adding four assists, but struggled with injuries down the stretch and missed four games. Yeagley expects him to play an even larger role this season.
We know Pablos abilities on the ball, but hes really put in the effort defensively and thats a big piece of what we want to do, Yeagley said.
It will be important for UW to get continued offensive production from seniors Miller, Delgado and athid=6006&deptid=122"> --> Taylor Waspi , as fellow senior athid=5596&deptid=122"> --> Scott Lorenz likely will be the focal point for opposing defenses after a breakout season that saw him score a team-leading 10 goals last year.
Beyond their contributions on the field, however, Yeagley has been impressed with the way the seniors have taken a leadership role in helping implement the new coaching staffs philosophy during spring training.
This is their team and we want them to have ownership in it while, at the same time, we have set some guidelines on how we want things done, Yeagley said. Every player that weve asked that of so far has been doing very well with that balance.
None of that surprises Yeagley. The idea of going out on a high note is something that still resonates with him from his senior season at Indiana, when he was named national player of the year.
Theyre willing to do anything we ask, he said. They want to win and have success in their last year, leave it all out there.
- sportid=122&storyid=17587"> --> Hohlbein nets first MLS goal in Wizards win
- sportid=122&storyid=17569"> --> Conklin's goal helps Badgers ramble past Loyola