McNall, Drew earn top honors for UW-Rock County soccer
“It is an endorsement of our program,” McNall said of the Rattlers’ WCC all-conference awards.
For UW-Rock, sweeper Matt Drew has been named WCC Player of the Year and has repeated as an all-conference first-team selection. Teammate Matt Santas joins Drew on the first-team. Goalkeeper Dominic Amato is a second-team pick, and Nick Miller has received honorable mention.
McNall said outstanding defense was the key for the Rattlers.
“If we were going to win the conference, we had to do it through defense,” McNall said. “I think the league recognized what we did, and what we were trying to do. We just didn’t try to run up the score.’’
UW-Rock, the defending conference champion, tied with UW-Fox Valley for the WCC regular-season title, each at 6-0-1. The teams played to a 1-1 tie in the regular season.
However, Fox Valley defeated UW-Rock, 3-0, for Wisconsin Junior College Conference tournament championship.
Drew, Santas, Amato and Miller were UW-Rock’s defensive cornerstones. The Rattlers allowed four goals in conference play and 11 goals overall, which is less than a goal per game.
Drew, a Milton High School graduate, was a two-year starter for the Rattlers.
“Matt has a very dominating personality,” McNall said of the team captain. “In the position of sweeper, you need someone who isn’t afraid to get vocal on defense. He was a very inspiring on-field leader.’’
Drew will continue his soccer career at the University of Dubuque next fall. Drew follows Ugouchku Umezurike (2005) and Allen Sleeman (1996) as UW-Rock’s conference Players of the Year.
Santas, a Beloit Turner graduate, suffered a season-ending injury in the first 45 seconds of his first game last season. He tore knee ligaments after getting tangled up in the box with a goalkeeper.
A healthy Santas returned this year and scored a team-leading 13 goals.
“There was no soccer program at Turner, but Matt fell in love with the game playing with his friends,” McNall said. “He is just a natural athlete.’’
Santas will return to UW-Rock next season to hone his skills with an eye toward continuing to play soccer at a four-year college. Janesville Craig graduate James Baine was UW-Rock’s second-leading scorer and was nominated for all-conference but did not receive recognition.
Amato, an Evansville High graduate, became UW-Rock’s career leader in shutouts and wins in a season. He will attend UW-Oshkosh next fall, but he is uncertain about continuing his soccer career.
Miller, a first-year player out of Milton High School, will return to UW-Rock next fall.
McNall, a UW-Rock graduate, is a registered nurse. He has been UW-Rock’s coach since 2003 and has guided the program to two championship tournament appearances and two conference championships.
“I’ll stay here for quite a while,” McNall said. “We play at a high level, but it’s a small school, and I get to know the players, and I like the small-campus vibe.
“It’s the same reasons I tell students to attend UW-Rock,” McNall said.
College soccer - WCC All-Conference
Matt Drew (UW-Rock), Ramiro Mendez (UW-Fox Valley), Dan McCulloch (UW-Washington), Cory Bougie (UW-Fond du Lac), Garet Sgami (UW-Baraboo), Matt Santas (UW-Rock), Branden Westlund (UW-Fox Valley), Jeramy Greenwood (UW-Baraboo), Enrik Braho (UW-Sheboygan), Noah Dalibor (UW-Washington).
Nou Yang (UW-Fond du Lac), Dominic Amato (UW-Rock), Ian Larson (UW-Fond du Lac), Steve Fuhrmann (UW-Fox Valley), Jake Lawyer (UW-Fox Valley), Hue Yang (UW-Baraboo), Justin Shader (UW-Washington), Manuel Pollak (UW-Marathon), Kyle Wagner (UW-Washington), Thomas Spencer (UW-Waukesha).
Nikki Beaver (UW-Waukesha), Mike Ortlieb (UW-Sheboygan), Nick Miller (UW-Rock), Daniel Kleist (UW-Marathon).
Player of the Year—Matt Drew, UW-Rock.
Coach of the Year—Grant McNall, UW-Rock.
Sports-Like Conduct Award—UW-Marathon