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Western Michigan Begins Play In The Missouri Valley Conference In 2023. Broncos Are Coming Off A Stellar 2022 Season.

Western Michigan Has Several Key Voids Resulting from Departures Due To Graduation.

Coach – Chad Wiseman – 11th season
Conference – Missouri Valley Conference
2022 Record – 16-3-2 overall, 5-1-2 conference
2022 National Ranking – 14 College Soccer News. Receiving votes United Soccer Coaches
Five Year Win Total
2022 – 16
2021 – 7
2020 – 7
2019 – 11
2018 – 11
Key Departures

Eric Conerty – Forward – Played in 67 contests with 59 starts over four seasons with 11 career goals and 16 career assists. Had three goals and 11 assists in 2022. A 2022 All-Region Second Team selection. A 2022 All-MAC First Team selection. Eam

Mike Melarangi – Forward – Played in 78 games with 61 starts over four seasons. Had 19 career goals and 17 career assists. 2022 All-MAC Second Team selection.

Hunter Morse – Goalkeeper – Started 21 games in 2022 allowing a total of only ten goals with a goals-against-average of 0.472 and 11 shutouts. United Soccer Coaches 2022 All-Region First Team selection. 2022 MAC Co-Goalkeeper of the Year. A 2022 Graduate Transfer from Michigan State where he played in 40 games with 38 starts over four seasons.

Daniel Nimick – Defender – Played in 65 contests with 51 starts over four seasons. Had eight goals including five game- winners and one assist in 2022. Had 12 career goals and 7 career assists. The 2022 MAC Player of the Year. Three-time All-MAC selection. 2022 First Team All-Region. United Soccer Coaches and College Soccer News 2022 All-American.

Matt Lockwood – Defender – Played in 21 games with 20 starts in 2022 with one goal and seven assists. A 2022 Graduate Transfer from Dixie State where he was a three-year starter with 42 appearances and 42 starts.

Jordan Walker – Forward – Played in 29 games over three seasons with two career goals. Appeared in 16 games in 2022.
2023 Outlook – Western Michigan is coming off of a banner 2022 season during which they were 16-3-6 overall, won the MAC Championship, advanced to the Sweet Sixteen in the NCAA Tournament, and were ranked as the number 14 team in the country in the season ending College Soccer News poll. The Broncos were among the better teams in the country last year but a good case could be made that they didn’t get the attention on the national scene that they deserved. A productive season as a member of the MVC in 2023 could remedy that.

Western Michigan will again be very competitive in 2023 but maintaining the level of success they had last year will depend in large part on their ability to fill the very real void that exists due to the graduation of five very productive veteran starters. While replacing experienced starters, particularly on the defensive side of the ball, is no small feat, an experienced nucleus does return.

The good news is that Graduate Students team captain Charlie Sharp (11g, 8a) and Dylan Sing (6g, 7a), the top two goal scorers last year, return to power the attack up top. Both are proven finishers with big play ability. They form a dynamic duo with the athleticism that can be difficult for opponents to contain. Redshirt sophomore Roni Sylejmani who missed almost the entire 2022 season due to injury is among other returning players with the potential to add an additional dimension and balance to the offense.

Sophomores Carson Hodgson (0g, 4a), a College Soccer News 2022 All-Freshman selection and the MAC Freshman of the Year, and Tanner Hodgson (0g, 4a) return in the midfield with the benefit of a year of starting experience under their belts. Both had very successful freshmen seasons. Graduate Student Praise Maduekwe who played in 16 games last year and redshirt seniors Landon Fisher (2g, 1a) and Ty Usiak are among other returning midfielders who look to be in the mix.

Last year a balanced Bronco team scored a total of 43 goals while limiting opponents to a total of only 10. A season opening 2-0 loss to Butler was the only game in which Western Michigan allowed an opponent to score twice. Solid team defense will likely again be a trademark of Western Michigan in 2023, but question marks exist on the defensive side of the ball due to the departure of All-American center back Daniel Nimick, outside back Matt Lockwood and highly regarded goalkeeper Hunter Morse. Nimick, perhaps the most indispensable player on the roster last year with five game-winners, will be particularly difficult to replace.

On the positive side of the ledger, Graduate Student center back Jaylen Shannon returns to anchor the backline along with outside left back redshirt junior Jonathan Robinson (2g, 5a). Both are experienced and very talented ball winners. Senior Dante Bailey who appeared in eight games last year and redshirt senior Vianney Durand (0g, 1a) who appeared in eight are among other returning backs who will be in the hunt for minutes. Redshirt senior Ethan Brandt is among returning netminders in contention for the vital starting role in goal.

The bottom line is that Western Michigan will enter the 2023 season ready to pick up where they left off last year but they will have to do so without some very important pieces from the 2022 team and facing the inherent challenges and rigors that accompany beginning play in a different conference. It may take a little bit of time for the Broncos to coalesce and for players to emerge to pick up the slack and assume a more prominent role, but the finished product should be strong.
Newcomers – Chad Wiseman stated, “We are thrilled that Noah, Christian, and Braxton have chosen to be Broncos. They are all phenomenal students, great soccer players but more than anything outstanding young men.” (More additions will be announced in the months to come)

Noah James – Midfielder – Poway, California – Poway High School – Played for SDSC Surf ECNL.

Christian Shannon – Defender – St. Joseph, Michigan – St. Joseph High School – Played for Kingdom SC – National League Pro. First Team All-State MHSAA in 2022.

Braxton Arpachinda – Defender – Sterling Heights, Michigan – Olathe West High School – Played for Sporting Kansas City Academy – MLS Next. Played for Sporting KC II during the preseason 2022.
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Posted in 2023 Team Reviews

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