The University of Wisconsin men’s soccer team polished off an impressive runner-up finish in the Big Ten tournament a few weeks ago. The team is now snagging some equally impressive offseason awards as sophomore defender Sam Brotherton and junior midfielder Christopher Mueller were selected to the Midwest All-Regional team on Wednesday.
The two standouts marked the first All-Region selections the program has produced since 2013 when AJ Cochran and Tomislav Zadro made the All-Great Lakes team.
Brotherton, a New Zealand native and active member of the men’s national team, is arguably the best player on the team and is one of the best defenders in the Big Ten. The sophomore was recently also named to the Big Ten second team and is expected to remain one of the leaders of a Wisconsin team that will have many returning players next season.
Another big return for next year is Mueller, one of the most electric goal scorers in the country and UW team leader in all five major offensive categories, including goals, with 27. Mueller was also recently given Big Ten accolades as he was named first team All Big Ten, only the 19th player in program history to do so.
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Mueller and Brotherton will undoubtedly be the leaders going into a season with high expectations. Last year was a surprising turnaround, going from one win at home and a loss in the first round of the Big Ten tournament in 2015 to a top 20 team and a penalty kick away from hoisting the Big Ten tournament trophy over reigning champion and No. 1 University of Maryland.
The awards are not surprising, but now leave little excuses if the team comes up short of the success they had last year. UW loses only three players to graduation this offseason and replaces them with a stacked recruiting class for the second straight year. Head coach John Trask went from being in the hot seat to the driver’s seat, but is now asked to deliver when the stakes are high.
Wisconsin now moves on to spring ball and hopes to rebuild going into another tough conference race in 2017.