Kicking Into High Gear
Oct. 7, 2004
by Jesse Hulsing
Brett Wiesner has played soccer in Austria.
He's played in Chile, too.
So maybe it's not surprising, then, that when he steps between the lines at Husky Soccer Field, Wiesner is confident that he can put the ball in net -- he's already taken the best shots of defenders worldwide, and scored on most.
As a freshman at Brookfield East High School in Brookfield, Wis., Wiesner led his team to a state title as a freshman, catching the eye of Washington coaches Dean Wurzberger and Jimmy Gabriel, who additionally coached the Under-16 national team. Under the joint tutelage of Wurzberger and club coach Mike Stoyanovich, Wiesner blossomed into Wisconsin's top youth soccer player, earning state player of the year honors from Gatorade, the NSCAA and the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.
Throughout his prep career, the two-time Parade All-American traveled the world with Wurzberger and Gabriel, playing for the Under-16 national team. In each country, Wiesner learned new methods of play, and adapted each into his own unique style.
Having already developed a bond with the UW coaches, choosing a college proved an easy decision for Wiesner.
'I came out here, saw the area and the guys on the team and thought it would be a good fit,' he says.
As the top signee in what Dean Wurzberger called the 'finest class Washington has ever assembled,' Wiesner found himself at the center of considerable pressure to succeed. As he did on the playing fields of Europe and South America, however, Wiesner simply did what he does best -- score goals. Wiesner started every game for the Huskies during his first season, tallying four goals and an assist en route to All-Pac-10 honorable mention honors.
Many players would be happy with this accomplishment. Wiesner, however, only wanted to improve.
'I had some high expectations for myself coming in,' he says. 'I felt like I played well, but I didn't get the tallies that I wanted.'
Wiesner returned in 2002 even more prepared than he was for his freshman season, and his hard work showed with game-winning goals in early-season games against Santa Clara and Charleston. He continued his tear throughout the year, scoring a team-high seven goals in 19 games, while All-Pac-10 second team honors.
A similar offseason of hard work had Wiesner poised to go to the next level in 2003, before a hamstring injury sidelined the junior for seven games.
'Hamstring injuries are pretty tough things to get over,' he says. 'I wasn't 100 percent until the last five or six games of the season.'
Despite starting just nine times, Wiesner still tallied a pair of game-winning goals, and helped the Huskies reach the third round of the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history.
In February, Wiesner had surgery on his heel, putting him in crutches for a month, and keeping him away from the game for an additional five months. It was longest he had gone without playing soccer in almost 15 years.
'It was pretty frustrating,' he says. 'I was not touching a ball, not running. Not being able to do anything but ride a bike for five or six months is pretty tough.'
Now back on the field for his senior season, Wiesner is taking advantage of his final chance to propel himself to the top of the list of the nation's best forwards. Wiesner has his sights set on a 10-goal season in 2004, but more important than any individual goals, is the team's success.
Last year, Wiesner guided the Huskies to the Sweet 16; this year, they want more.
'Our goal is to improve on what we did last year,' he says. 'Last year we went further than any men's team in Husky soccer history. We have a tight-knit group this year. Our expectations are really high.'
Their chances appear good, with 12 returning letterwinners, including first-team All-American C.J. Klaas, and a freshman class that might rival Wiesner's as the best in program history. With eight wins from their first 12 games, it appears the veteran leaders are working well with the young stars.
'We play a lot of different styles,' Wiesner says. 'We like to keep the ball on the floor, but if we have to play a different style then we have the players and coaches to do it.'
With a combination of youthful exuberance and veteran savvy, don't be surprised if Brett Wiesner and Husky soccer kick their way to an impressive year.