SANTA CLARA, Calif. – With a productive preseason behind the Santa Clara men's soccer team, the focus now shifts to regular season, which kicks off on Friday. The Broncos will face Wisconsin at McClimon Soccer Complex at 5 p.m. PT in Madison, Wisconsin.
Santa Clara had two exhibition matches during the preseason, the most recent of which was a 2-0 victory over Sacramento State at Stevens Stadium on Aug. 20. The reigning WCC leading scorer, junior Carlos Delgadillo, scored both goals for the Broncos. Overall, the team was aggressive throughout the game, firing 14 shots and winning 11 corner kicks.
In the first tune-up of the season, the Broncos fell 3-2 to the Aztecs in a 100-minute exhibition in San Diego on Aug. 17. The Broncos' goals came from senior Edson Cardona and sophomore Andres Jimenez. Santa Clara outshot the opponent, 10-6 and earned six corner kicks to SDSU's three.
"Any time you travel with the team, it's going to teach you things about your group and how they react," head coach Cameron Rast said. "I think going down to Chula Vista and playing a game down at San Diego State put us in an environment that's unfamiliar and I thought we reacted quite well. That will be the intent and purpose of how we approach these games against Wisconsin and Northwestern."
The Broncos ended the 2015 season with a record of 11-8-1 and 5-1-1 record in conference play to claim the program's fifth (2003, 2006, 2007, 2010) league title under head coach Cameron Rast and 20th all-time. Under Rast, the 2015 WCC Coach of the Year, the team advanced to the round of 32 in the NCAA Tournament but lost to Stanford, the eventual NCAA Champions.
Despite missing three games due to injury, Delgadillo was the leading scorer for the team and the conference in 2015 with 10 goals. Delgadillo also dished out the most assists of the returning Broncos with four. Delgadillo and junior defender Valdemar Andersen were All-WCC first team honorees. Also returning to the squad is sophomore defender Luis Urias, the reigning WCC Freshman of the Year. Senior defender Parker Holland earned all-conference honorable mention honors while sophomore midfielder Matthew Sipowicz garnered WCC All-Freshman team accolades.
The Broncos will have a void to fill in goal with 2015 WCC Co-Goalkeeper of the Year Kendall McIntosh graduating. Rast and associate head coach Eric Yamamoto, who coaches the goalkeepers, have four netminders to choose from heading into the season.
Wisconsin went 1-0-1 in exhibition play, drawing with Northern Illinois on Aug. 16 at home, 1-1, then winning, 3-1, at Creighton on Aug. 20. Wisconsin returns 17 letterwinners from its 5-11-3 2015 campaign, including 12 players that have started for UW in the past, and welcomes 13 newcomers. UW lost just three key starters in Drew Conner, Adam Lauko and Carl Schneider.
"Wisconsin is a good team that is well-coached," Rast said. "John Trask does a great job. They'll be tough; they play in the Big Ten so they play a lot of good, tough teams. They are going to be workman-like, strong, they are going to be tough to break down. I think the big piece is to make sure we're moving the ball and that we are very mobile in our attack. We also have to make sure they don't get behind us defensively. They like to try to play in behind you right away. As long as our shape is right and we're moving the ball, I think we'll have a good chance in the game."
New Zealand star Sam Brotherton enters his sophomore as team captain after anchoring a Badger defense that tallied three shutouts last year. Wisconsin will also look to the junior quartet of Tom Barlow, Mike Catalano, Christopher Mueller and Mark Segbers. Mueller led the Badgers last fall with five goals, including a game-winning goal at Rutgers, and 13 points. Barlow, Catalano and Segbers, who all earned All-Big Ten freshmen honors in 2013, were tied for the second-most goals on the team with three apiece.