Western Michigan Ready for Final Push
KALAMAZOO, Mich. -- Western Michigan came into this year with a lot of turnover and a tough schedule, featuring four teams in the Top 25 early in the 2022 season. With ten players graduating and more transferring out after a tough covid year, WMU had an uphill battle from the beginning.
“We lost a lot of our offensive production from the past year,” said Western Michigan coach Justin Shipp. “We knew coming in that we would need to really focus on developing our players and reestablishing our culture this year to rebuild.”
The rebuild became evident as the roster began to shape form with youth spread out in every position. Upwards of eight freshmen have made their way into the starting lineup at one point throughout the season so far with the entire close defensive unit only in their sophomore year.
Through eight games, the Broncos have seen some highs, lows and even a few moments of brilliance.
“We knew this year we would have to grow through mental errors as our playing experience at this level was low overall,” said Shipp.
The learning curve was steep as teams like Virginia Tech and Minnesota showed how much growth would be needed to reach the next level. Still, this young team has shown that it has a ton of fight in it.
In their second weekend of competition, WMU showed some real determination climbing back against a tough Dominican team, almost pulling it out. Same could be said against Colorado State, where, after a slow start, the Broncos seemed to give the Rams fits on both sides of the ball.
“The guys really showed if we could get past our slow starts and some of the mental errors, we have a chance to compete at a top level,” said team president Zach Gallaher.
This past weekend, all the hard work really showed the progress the Broncos have made this season.
Against Purdue, the team seemed in control and more confident in their systems and their teammates. The game came down to two or three plays that could have changed the tide of that game losing a close one to Purdue.
Sunday, against Indiana, the team appeared to finally break through the glass ceiling. The offense controlled time of possession making smart plays, minimizing turn overs and forced plays. Young guys showed confidence in themselves and shared the wealth with multiple players striking gold.
The transition game came alive with a high percentage of clears converted, led by brilliant runs from Mitchell Bates and Andy Schuring. Finally, the defense continued to grow and show that they are the heart and soul of the team anchored by extraordinary play by senior goalie Clark Hills .
All totaling up to the Broncos first win in their UMLC subdivision, 11-9, against the Indiana Hoosiers.
With three games left in the season, the Broncos have more time to improve and will face three tough teams to further their development and a slight chance to make it to the playoffs.
“Our goal is to maximize the development of this team, take it one step at a time and win the day,” said Shipp. "For the future, the Broncos aim to continue to recruit talented incoming players growing to a max of 45 to 50 players, with the ultimate goal of eventually competing for conference and national titles."
As the 2022 season nears its end, the momentum seems to be building for this young team and with only graduating five seniors the future seems bright for this program.