In the second of a two-part video interview with UWBadgers.com, first-year men's soccer head coach staffid=1074"> --> Todd Yeagley offers his perspective on where leadership will come from on his veteran team, who he sees as difference-makers for the Badgers and what the teams five newcomers bring to the table.
mid=3561"> --> Video: Yeagley Previews the Season: Part 2
After knocking on the door of the NCAA tournament last season, the Wisconsin mens soccer team has every intention of breaking through and getting back to the Big Dance in 2009.
The Badgers seem to have the pieces in place to build on last years 9-7-3 finish, as they return seven starters from that team. A core of eight seniors will be looked upon to the lead the squad, which is now under the direction of first-year head coach Todd Yeagley.
The key is that were going to have different types of leaders on this team, Yeagley said. Not all of them are going to be seniors, because a few young guys have stepped up, but each one has the ability to lead in their own way.
With plenty of offensive firepower returning and a new focus on defense instituted by Yeagley and his staff, the Badgers hope to avoid the close calls that plagued them in 2008. Six of the Badgers seven losses last season came by a one-goal margin, while the five Big Ten Conference matches they failed to win were decided by a combined four goals.
The new staffs commitment to defense showed during the spring season, as the Badgers posted a 2-0-2 record and tallied three shutouts to outscore their opponents by a combined 7-1 margin.
It was a unique spring because we didnt watch video from the fall specifically so we wouldnt have any pre-judgment, Yeagley said. I knew some of the players, but it was a fresh slate.
In all, the Badgers return players who accounted for 72 percent of the minutes logged last season, with senior goalkeeper Alex Horwath leading the way. Set to begin his third season in goal for UW, Horwath started all 19 games last season and posted a 1.02 goals-against average. He also ranked second in the Big Ten with 76 saves and recorded six shutouts for the second-consecutive season.
With Al in goal, hes a strong leader, Yeagley said. The other players look to him for strength.
On defense, the Badgers will be tasked with replacing back-line staples Andy Miller and Zack Lambo, who were both lost to graduation. Seniors Taylor Waspi and Eric Conklin, both second-team All-Big Ten picks last year, will be the Badgers leaders on defense.
They will anchor a back row that also includes returning starter Aaron Nichols and veterans like senior Brian Bultman and junior Cale Cooper.
We had some very steady performances (in the spring) from Cale Cooper in the back, and Taylor Waspi, when hes healthy, is a backbone for us, Yeagley said.
There is no shortage of talent for the Badgers in the midfield, either, with the return of senior Pablo Delgado and sophomores Austin Spohn and Colin Monasterio a group that accounted for four goals and eight assists last season.
Pablo Delgado is a perfect example of a player that, in the areas of his game that needed improvement, hes shown that, Yeagley said. Hes doing the work on both sides. We know hes a creative player but we need him to take on the workload defensively, and hes done a great job of that.
Delgado was limited by injury after getting off to a hot start in 2008, while Monasterio came on late and started seven of the Badgers final nine games on his way to earning a spot on the Big Ten All-Freshman team. A key reserve who played in 15 games last year, Spohn was a breakout star of the spring season and tallied a pair of goals in just four games.
With 14 letterwinners returning from last years squad, the Badgers welcome back four of their top five point-scorers and 86 percent of their goals scored from a year ago.
That includes the senior duo of Scott Lorenz and Brandon Miller, who return to lead the Badges on the front line. The pair ranked 1-2 on the team in scoring a year ago, as Lorenz tallied a team-best 10 goals and Miller tied for the team high with five assists while also scoring three times.
You have a very workmanlike and quiet guy in Brandon Miller who leads by example every day, Yeagley said. He just outworks his opponents and brings so much to this team in training and in matches.
Lorenz was the Badgers breakout star a year ago, ranking third in points among Big Ten players during the regular season with 23. His 10 goals were fourth-best in the league and, impressively, he put 34 of his team-high 60 shots (57 percent) on goal. Of the eight games the Badgers played between Oct. 8 and Nov. 5, Lorenz found the back of the net in six, tallying a total of seven goals over that span.
Sophomore Mark Roos gets added to the mix up front after showing flashes of brilliance in the spring and is expected to see plenty of time at forward.
Mark Roos had an outstanding spring and I think will be a big part of our team this fall, Yeagley said.
In addition the strength of the Badgers core of returners, a total of five newcomers join the mix for 2009, as well. That includes sophomore forward Ross Seagram, who transferred to UW from Maine, reigning Illinois high school player of the year Kyle McCrudden (Wilmette, Ill.,), forward Ata Ozbay (Barrington, Ill.), defender Daniel Kohen (Los Angeles, Calif.) and midfielder Derek Pitts (Middleton, Wis.).
Its a small group, but it hits a few areas we needed to build some depth in, Yeagley said.
That depth and the Badgers experience will be key in navigating a difficult schedule that includes five teams ranked in the preseason NSCAA/adidas Top 25 poll and eight that played in last years NCAA tournament.
Following the opening weekend of the season, the Badgers will play eight of their next 10 matches on the road, with their only home dates coming against Big Ten preseason favorite Indiana (Sept. 25) and defending league champion Michigan State (Oct. 11).
Besides the always-challenging Big Ten slate, the Badgers face the challenge of taking on NCAA tournament teams Oakland and UC-Santa Barbara in Milwaukee (Sept. 18-20), as well as a road date with Illinois-Chicago (Sept. 30) before the season is even a month old.
2009 Preseason Coverage
- Aug. 26 - sportid=122&storyid=18779"> --> Q&A with Big Ten Network's Kenn Tomasch
- Aug. 25 - sportid=122&storyid=18776"> --> Talkin' With Tiemeyer: Taylor Waspi
- Aug. 25 - sportid=122&storyid=18774"> --> Previewing the Opponents: Non-conference Part 1
- Aug. 24 - sportid=122&storyid=18759"> --> Badgers use extra time to score 1-0 exhibition win
- Aug. 24 - sportid=122&storyid=18747"> --> Know a Newcomer: Derek Pitts
- Aug. 21 - sportid=122&storyid=18734"> --> Practice Report #3: Badgers hit field for scrimmage
- Aug. 21 - sportid=122&storyid=18727"> --> Practice Report #2: Rain doesn't deter Badgers
- Aug. 21 - sportid=122&storyid=18724"> --> Know a Newcomer: Ata Ozbay
- Aug. 20 - sportid=122&storyid=18710"> --> McCrudden named to '100 Freshmen to Watch' list
- Aug. 20 - sportid=122&storyid=18707"> --> Talkin' With Tiemeyer: Alex Horwath
- Aug. 20 - sportid=122&storyid=18706"> --> What to Watch 4: Key Games
- Aug. 19 - sportid=122&storyid=18679"> --> Practice Report #1
- Aug. 19 - sportid=122&storyid=18676"> --> Q&A with Big Ten Network's Richard Broad
- Aug. 18 - sportid=122&storyid=18668"> --> What to Watch 4: Key Players
- Aug. 17 - sportid=122&storyid=18661"> --> Know a Newcomer: Kyle McCrudden
- Aug. 17 - sportid=122&storyid=18656"> --> Coach Yeagley's Blog: Looking forward to fall
- Aug. 12 - sportid=122&storyid=18611"> --> Yeagley Previews the Season: Part 1