Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Soccer teams bring in wealth of talent

The Wisconsin men’s soccer team is a little bit bigger than it was a few weeks ago, 12 players bigger to be precise. Head coach Jeff Rohrman’s 2003 recruiting class will bring 11 new recruits and one transfer to the Cardinal and White next season.

The crown jewels of this year’s class are midfielder Aaron Witchger and defender/midfielder Aaron Hohlbein.

Witchger, a 2002 NSCAA/Adidas All-American from Edina, Minn., will be looked upon to spice up the Wisconsin offensive attack.


“Aaron Witchger will add quite a bit in terms of the attack,” Rohrman said. “He’s a very creative type of player, and certainly he’s capable of not only setting people up but also scoring goals.”

Hohlbein, a Middleton native, is expected to be a major contributor in the Badger defense.

“I think Aaron Hohlbein is going to fill a huge gap in the back with the absence of John McGrady,” Rohrman said.

In addition to earning 2002 first-team All-State honors, Hohlbein was named The Capital Times’ Prep Soccer Player of the Year. In 2000, current Badger Nick Van Sicklen and Hohlbein’s older brother Jed, who will join Aaron in Madison after transferring from Southwest Missouri State University, shared that distinction.

Jed Hohlbein, a forward, was the top goal scorer for SMS this season.

Rohrman landed two more first-team All-State selections in Hamid Afsari, a defender from Whitefish Bay, and Mequon forward/midfielder Reid Johnson. The second team is also well represented in the class of 2003.

At an imposing six-foot-four, 200-pound forward Matt Jelacic and midfielder/defender Tommy Worboril, both from Brookfield, will suit up for UW next year, along with Waukesha defender Andrew Cardona.

Rounding out the in-state recruits are defender/midfielder John Scripp from Milwaukee and La Crosse goalkeeper Mike Hood, who has spent time with the Minnesota Olympic Development Program.

All in all, nine Wisconsin natives will put on a Wisconsin uniform for the first time in August.

“I think what you find — if all things are equal, the guy who’s worn ‘Wisconsin’ on the front of his shirt since he was five years old, when he puts it on when he’s seventeen or eighteen, there’s a lot more meaning to it than a guy who’s maybe coming from other parts of the country,” Rohrman said.

Cedar Rapids, Iowa, goalkeeper Jake Settle and talented Canadian Frank Iaizzo, a midfielder/defender from Toronto, join Witchger as the only out of state signees. Settle gives the class a second NSCAA/Adidas All-American.

The talent of the group has Rohrman excited for the upcoming season.

“Overall, I think our depth has improved, I think it’s going to be a lot more competitive internally, which should make it exciting for the guys,” he said, “I think we’re going to be better overall, in a lot of different areas. I think the guys coming in are going to complement what we have here already.”

The men’s team was not the only Wisconsin soccer program to find recruiting success in the off-season as the women’s program took steps to strengthen its roster as well.

When asking Dean Duerst, head coach for the women’s soccer team, to discuss whom his two best recruits are in his recruiting class for next year he said that is more difficult to do than most people can imagine.

Eleven talented players ranging from across the Midwest and Missouri as well have signed national letters of intent to play for the Badgers next season.

Even though the team is only losing four seniors, Kelly Conway, Lauren Schmidt, Jessica Wolff and Jenny Jurkowski, Duerst said it is important to recruit more than that number because sometimes players will decided not to play anymore for various reasons and they will need to be replaced.

It is also important to consistently bring more competition to the squad, and that is exactly what Duerst thinks his new recruiting class will do.

“Any time you get a large class, they’re going to be an immediate challenge to our existing group,” coach Duerst said. “With such a large group, they’re going to really help us raise the competitiveness within the team and raise their standard of play overall. Our team knows that there are some very talented players in that mix and they’ll greet them with open arms.”

In looking at the new recruiting class one of its main strengths is the speed many of the new recruits will bring to the field. Heading the list of speedy newcomers is Rachel Hansen from Evanston, Ill., Lindsey Walker from Bloomfield Hills, Mich., and Lauren Rudzinski from Green Bay, Wis.

“Her (Hansen’s) attribute is speed, there’s no doubt about it,” Duerst said of. “She’s very strong. She can definitely get up in the air and head balls well.”

He also adds, “Lindsey’s greatest asset is her speed and kind of a nose for the goal. She sniffs goals out and probably because she gets to places where people don’t think she can.”

Both Hansen and Walker could be players who make an immediate impact for the team upfront at forward.

Only two of Duerst’s new recruits are listed as defenders, although that could change at anytime next season. Natalie Horner, a four-time state Olympic Development Player, from Orono, Minn., and Stacy Omundson from Evanston, Ill., will look to give the Badgers some added depth in the backfield next season.

Rounding out the recruiting class of players are Kara Kabellis, a midfielder/forward from Lockport, Ill., Emily Kintzer, a forward from Madison, Allison Preiss, a midfielder/forward from St. Louis, and midfielders Monica Roberts (Madison) and Alli Saari (Minnetonka, Minn.).

With the departure of goalie Kelly Conway, the Badgers all time saves leader, Duerst was forced to add another keeper to his roster; his addition Stefani Szczechowski, from Plymouth, Mich., will look to challenge Lisa Mattiacci, the heir to the goalie position for playing time next fall.

“She’s one of these keepers that is well rounded,” Duerst said. “She’s quick, she’s fast, she plays with the ball well. She is very similar to Kelly Conway in the way in which she plays.”

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