In the first of a two-part video interview with UWBadgers.com, first-year men's soccer head coach staffid=1074"> --> Todd Yeagley discusses his teams goals for the 2009 season, as well as the challenges the Badgers will face, his thoughts on the progress the team has made, and the difficult schedule it will face.
mid=3505"> --> Video: Yeagley Previews the Season: Part 1
The objective for the Wisconsin mens soccer team couldnt be more well-defined as the Badgers prepare to begin the 33rd season in UW history and first under the programs fifth head coach, Todd Yeagley.
The goals are very clear for this group, Yeagley said. Its been since the championship year in 95 that this program has been in the NCAA tournament.
Its a goal that nearly came to fruition in 2008. The Badgers finished the season with a 9-7-3 record after being eliminated from the Big Ten tournament on penalty kicks and stood 36th in the RPI ratings but, ultimately, were left out of the 48-team NCAA field.
Its an experience the Badgers would prefer not to go through again.
Right when I got here, I could feel the sense of this team and what was specifically on their mind for the coming year, Yeagley said. Thats to get in the big show.
Yeagley brings a wealth of NCAA tournament experience to the Badgers, as he helped Indiana to NCAA berths in each of his 10 seasons in Bloomington: four as a player and six more as an assistant coach. The Hoosiers won at least one NCAA game in eight of those years, made three College Cup appearances and won a pair of national championships in 2003 and 2004.
Helping to give the Badgers a taste of postseason success is now Yeagleys focus, and building for late November is a process that began back in early April.
A successful spring campaign gave way to club seasons over the summer for most of the team and, now, Yeagley and his staff will look to build upon that foundation over the course of the scant 17 days that comprise their preseason.
I know the players have worked very hard this summer to put themselves in a position for that to happen, he said. Its an attainable goal, and one that the team is going to have to work very hard at.
Its the everyday approach that will allow us to achieve that, and that starts here (next week).
The Badgers open practice on Aug. 19 and face a tough exhibition test against preseason No. 3-ranked Akron before officially opening the season on Sept. 4 at home against Virginia Tech.
More from head coach Todd Yeagley, as he looks ahead to the 2009 season:
On the progress the team made during its spring season:
If we could have taped our session from day one to our final practice, it was night-and-day in terms of the approach, the energy, the passion they brought to training, the attention to detail and the discipline with which they played.
Its a group that learned what it takes to bring the everyday approach, and then that was showing on the field in our spring matches. Once the light bulb went off that those were correlated, then you had a group that was believing in the direction that were headed.
On the Badgers focus heading into fall practice:
Were trying to get a mentality with this group thats not as much the Xs and Os -- and I enjoy that part -- but more the principles individually and collectively. Thats really what weve stressed.
If we can be efficient and be better than our opponents in those individual areas, typically, youll find yourself on the winning end. The players understand that, and the attention to detail theyre putting into training has shown to provide good results, like we had in the spring.
The fall is a different beast and there are different challenges ahead, but I think theyre ready.
On the challenges the Badgers face:
The challenge has been bringing in the new staff and trying to implement what were trying to do and find the right combination of players. Now, in the short period in the preseason were allotted, its going to be our challenge to put that right group out there, find that right chemistry.
On what to expect from the Badgers on the field:
The system that we played with this spring, a 4-3-3, I thought, suited this group best. We talked about the discipline it takes, but this is a team thats going to play a free-flowing game. You have to switch gears very quickly from defense to offense and we want a team that has creativity in the final third.