In 2000, the Wisconsin men's soccer team had its best season since Head Coach Kalekeni Banda took over in 1997. Going 10-9-1, Wisconsin placed fourth in the Big Ten and held its own against nationally ranked teams like Marquette and Yale. However, the Badgers' inconsistencies on the field plagued the team, and they lost to Ohio State (a team they had beaten earlier in the year) in the Big Ten Tournament.
Leading the Badgers was midfielder Narciso Fernandes, who is now with the Kansas City Wizards of Major League Soccer. Forward Abraham Bull and defenseman Steve Sorensen have also graduated, leaving a large leadership void to be filled this year.
Filling the void in the leadership department will be tri-captains Valentine Anozie, Scott Repa and Mike Congiu. Anozie, a senior forward/midfielder, was the team's leading scorer two years ago, and was a second-team All-Big Ten selection last year.
Congiu, a senior back, will play the aggressor in the back and midfield. Repa, a redshirt senior back, has been around since 1997. He was one of four Badgers to start every game last year and will anchor the backfield with goalie Moriba Baker. Baker is a seasoned veteran in the goal, earning six shutouts in his career, including two against Yale and Marquette. Senior forward Aaron Lauber will also be expected to increase his role in the offense.
2001 Men's Soccer Schedule
at Howard, 4 p.m.
at Maryland-Baltimore County, 1 p.m.
IONA, 7 p.m.
at TCU Tournament
MARQUETTE, 7 p.m.
OHIO STATE, 1 p.m.
ILLINOIS-CHICAGO, 7 p.m.
at UW-Milwaukee, 3 p.m.
at Penn State, 1 p.m.
INDIANA, 7:30 p.m.
IUPUI, 7 p.m.
at Michigan, 2 p.m.
at Northern Illinois, 3 p.m.
MICHIGAN STATE, 1 p.m.
at Northwestern, 2 p.m.
BIG TEN TOURNAMENT, TBA
*Home games in CAPS.
*All home games played at McClimon Track/Soccer Complex.
These seniors have all been with Banda since the beginning, so they know what will be expected of them on the field.
'They know that they're going to be the ones to set a legacy behind that the other guys should follow,' Banda said.
The man to watch, however, will be senior Dominic DaPra. The Racine, Wis. native's 36 points on 15 goals and six assists were tops in the Big Ten. An All-Big Ten and All-Great Lakes region first teamer, DaPra will be the man the opposition will be gunning for this season.
DaPra spent the summer as the youngest member on the Milwaukee team that won the United States Amateur Cup. With this experience, DaPra is going into the season stronger and better than he was last year.
'Dominic is always going to find goals. He's just very good at that,' Repa said.
Even though DaPra is the offensive leader of the team, he said the Badgers are loaded with talent.
'Aaron [Lauber] hasn't got much of a chance to play, but whenever he plays, he scores goals. I look for him to have more success than people expect,' DaPra said.
Along with the senior stars, a new crop of freshmen and sophomores is ready to make an impact for Wisconsin.
Sophomores Erol Goknor, Watson Prather and Matt Kalua all saw playing time last year and are ready for an increase in action this season.
Banda also brought in a highly talented recruiting class for the Badgers, including forward Nick Van Sicklen, midfielder Nicolas Aguilar and backs Joe Anderson and Ryan Nord.
Banda is very excited with this mixture of veterans and newcomers and is very confident going into the season.
'This is the best I've felt since coming here in terms of people coming back and hanging with the program,' Banda said.