Western Michigan has bolted out of the gate this season, making good on the social media campaign of ‘#WeWillReign’ set by the athletic department.
The BR-53 Broncos currently sit at a perfect 4-0, having outscored their opponents 12-1 in the regular season (14-1 including exhibitions). Western Michigan kicked off its campaign with identical 2-0 wins over BR-112 Marshall and BR-51 Dayton before edging BR-202 Fort Wayne 2-1. On Labor Day, head coach Chad Wiseman’s squad put in work and made a statement in crushing BR-174 IUPUI 6-0.
“Our leadership continues to get stronger and stronger,” Wiseman said after the IUPUI game. “I am very happy for Nate Hoover and Alex Ruddock for scoring their first career goals in a Bronco uniform. It is now time to rest and recover, were all very excited to be heading to California next week. It’s going to be two great games and were looking forward to visit with alumni out on the west coast.”
The upcoming games against St. Mary’s and Pacific will mark the first time ever that WMU has traveled to Cali.
This is the fourth time in program history the Broncos have started the season 4-0 — a feat they accomplished last year before rolling to an 11-4-4 finish, falling to Buffalo in the Mid-American Conference Tournament semifinals, 2-1, to cap the season.
This year, the Broncos have a solid front line that can put the ball in the back of the net at any given moment. So far, Brandon Bye is leading the team in points with 12 (4 goals, 4 assists). He’s followed by Hoover with five points (1g, 3a), Dzenan Nezirevic with four (2g) and Diego Lopez with four (2g).
One of the team’s most important holdovers from last season is ‘keeper Drew Shepherd. The redshirt junior has been phenomenal between the pipes, allowing just one goal for a 0.25 goals against average. Shepherd has seven saves while facing 19 shots and has posted three shutouts and an 88-percent save percentage.
Last year, Shepherd led all of D1 Men’s Soccer in goals against average with a final tally of 0.329 and was second in save percentage at 88, right where he is now. Needless to say, this goalkeeper hasn’t missed a beat in 2016.
As solid as the defense has been from the start, Western Michigan has been just as good up front, if not better. Overall, the Broncos’ high-octane offense has outshot their opponents 63-19 and hold a 37-12 advantage in corner kicks.