‘It starts right now’: men’s soccer team eager for next season

The Utah Tech men’s soccer team huddles up during a time out during the fundraiser game against Las Vegas Lights FC held Feb 19. Throughout the season, supporters enjoyed watching the team’s progress and are looking forward to the upcoming season this spring. Miki Akiyama | Sun News Daily

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The Utah Tech University men’s soccer team concluded its season by setting a program record for wins at the Division I level.

The Trailblazers were picked to finish last in the preseason coaches poll. Despite the critics, they ended the season with a 9-9 record, finishing third in the Western Athletic Conference.

Utah Tech earned their first conference tournament match win since joining the Division I level with a score of 1-0 against San José State University. They went on to play California Baptist University in the semifinal of the WAC tournament, losing the game 0-2.

Jimi Villasenor, a redshirt junior marketing major from Las Vegas, said the difference in this year’s team compared to last season is night and day. 

“I couldn’t have asked for a better season with the boys,” Villasenor said. “Me personally, I thought I performed very well this season. That makes me happy, and I’m very, very proud of this team.”

In the 2022-2023 season, Utah Tech ended with a 4-12-2 record and finished eighth in the WAC. This year, the Trailblazers didn’t just improve their record but improved on shooting and scoring. The Trailblazers averaged 13.2 shots per game compared to last year with 7.4 shots a game. They had a total of 18 goals on the year, doubling their goals from the previous year.

Austin Wallace, a freshman general studies major from Lehi, said it was a challenge returning to play after serving a two-year mission for his church. Wallace said he is using the offseason to work on his range of play.

“Coming back, it took me some time to adjust to the speed of things,” Wallace said. “I still feel like I could improve on how fast I’m playing and where I’m going with the ball. That was one thing I felt like I struggled with throughout the season.”

Wallace talked about the game against Gonzaga University where he scored the game-winning goal in the 89th minute. Wallace said it was his favorite memory from this past season. 

Head coach Jonny Broadhead has been the coach of the men’s soccer team for seven seasons. He said this marks his best year as a Division I coach. Broadhead said the team already has its eye on the next season and is eager to compete again. 

“I asked the guys when this next year starts, and Julian Herrera, before I could even finish the sentence, he’s like ‘It [the season] starts right now,’” Broadhead said.

Broadhead’s next steps are to get spring games scheduled to keep the team in shape and to help them get better for next season.