Brady Wahl started 33 of 36 matches in his first two soccer seasons at Ohio State, still counts friends in Columbus and harbors “nothing negative to say about Ohio State or anybody there.”
The standout midfielder from Geneva understands his recent decision to buck the Buckeyes for Marquette might appear unorthodox, then. He simply had to act for himself.
“In order to continue to make me hungry and push my development over the top so that I can make this game my job, I think Marquette would be the best place for me to do that right now,” Wahl said.
Ohio State granted Wahl’s scholarship release shortly after the 2012 season, which the team finished 6-10-3. Wahl, who will begin studies as a Marquette student later this month, was adamant his transfer didn’t hinge on any single incident.
A member of the Big Ten All-Freshman team in 2011, Wahl debuted solidly enough, starting 18 of 19 matches while notching his first career goal in a 1-0 overtime win against Bowling Green that October. He took slightly less than half the Buckeyes’ corner kicks and remained an aggressive force in each third of the field, building on his reputation from Geneva and the club scene.
As a sophomore, Wahl’s shots on goal decreased from 20 to six, while his assist total climbed from one to three. He called his departure “a personal decision,” adding, “I just needed to pursue another option, be somewhere else and be in a different environment to take it to the next level.”
Wahl, who is part of the Chicago Fire player development program during the summer, aspires to play professionally, ideally for U.S.-based Major League Soccer. Researching possible transfer targets to keep him on that path, he consulted Marquette midfielder Bryan Ciesiulka, a Fire teammate and Neuqua Valley product.
Ciesiulka lauded Golden Eagles coach Louis Bennett, whose former players include a handful of MLS contributors. Once Wahl took a campus visit, he found “a good fit” immediately.
At Marquette, Wahl also will be reunited with goalkeeper Charlie Lyon, a St. Charles East alumnus who first encountered Wahl during their Campton United days.
“The unity in the team and what we’re able to do and the style of play is something I think will suit how Brady plays,” Lyon said. “He’s a very talented player and will be a good addition to the team.”
Lyon posted a 0.78 goals-against average while starting each of Marquette’s matches during a 16-4-1 season. The Golden Eagles lost to Northwestern, 1-0, in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
The Wildcats also ended what proved to be Wahl’s final season at Ohio State, winning in the Big Ten Tournament. It’s a detail he’d just as soon forget in his bid to start over.
Smile for the camera: Northern Illinois’ Tri-Cities contingent grabbed its share of screen time during Tuesday’s Orange Bowl telecast on ESPN.
Geneva alumnus Michael Santacaterina earned analyst Matt Millen’s accolades first, drawing a personal foul penalty against Florida State’s Karlos Williams on the Huskies’ return of the opening kickoff.
Williams had been tussling with NIU fullback Rob Sterling when Santacaterina, a linebacker, arrived on the scene and absorbed Williams’ retaliatory shove.
“Nicely done by Santacaterina not to do anything,” Millen told viewers before turning his focus to the underdog Huskies. “But when you’re dealing with all this, sometimes you have a big chip on your shoulder. You really want to believe that you do belong with the big boys, so things get a little chippy.”
Given the importance of his position to the offense – not to mention his bulky frame – left tackle Ryan Brown (St. Charles North) found the camera focused in his vicinity whenever the Huskies had the ball.
Bobby Winkel, a Marmion product from Batavia, served as trail blocker on NIU’s successful fake punt early in the game, a key play replayed several times.
Winkel also was captured firing up the sideline and fans a handful of times.
Former Geneva quarterback Matt Williams also showed his animated side, signaling plays from the sideline as he has throughout his redshirt freshman season. Sporting a headset and backwards hat along with a blue penny over his jersey, Williams could easily be spotted among his surroundings.
According to an ESPN release, Orange Bowl ratings rose 44 percent from 2012, as the NIU/Florida State broadcast averaged a 6.5 market rating nationally. One national ratings point equals approximately 1,142,000 households.
• Kevin Druley is a sports writer for the Kane County Chronicle. He can be reached at 630-845-5347 or firstname.lastname@example.org.