Redshirt freshman Zak Wegner as versatile part of Golden Eagles team

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Redshirt freshman Zak Wegner as versatile part of Golden Eagles team

Photo by Elena Fiegen

Photo by Elena Fiegen

Photo by Elena Fiegen

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Last year, defender Zak Wegner did not play a single minute for Marquette men’s soccer. A year later, the redshirt freshman has played in every match this season.

Much of the reason for the change is Wegner’s versatility. He has played three different positions since the spring exhibition season, and he has already played two in the fall season.

Growing up in nearby Hartland, Wisconsin, he made the trek to Valley Fields many times to see the Golden Eagles. It was one of the reasons he wanted to come play for the Golden Eagles. Other reasons included the short distance from his house and a love for Milwaukee.

In 2016, Wegner was the team captain for Arrowhead High School, where he set a school record with 32 assists in one season. However, when he started at Marquette, he was redshirted,

Head coach Louis Bennett said the year of growth for Wegner was huge. The decision to redshirt him, Wegner said, was a mutual decision between him and Bennett.

“Always work hard and you’ll always get your opportunity and when you get that you have to make the most of it,” Wegner said. “Really, it doesn’t matter if you’re on the bench. You always have a job to do on the team, and you always have to do it to the best of your ability.”

Bennett said when someone plays multiple positions, he needs to have an understanding of his role at a high level. In the role Wegner had — unlike most players — he needs to understand the duties of multiple positions.

Wegner said the transition from playing all the time in high school to not playing at all in college was challenging.

“It’s a little difficult at first but it took a little bit of time for me to truly understand that it’s really what I can do for the team and help them succeed,” Wegner said. “It’s not about you, it’s about the team as a collective whole.”

Now Wegner is one of the most important players on Marquette’s team. He is one of five players on the team to start in every single game. All of his starts have been at either right back or center midfielder.

“(When playing) right back I’m responsible for going up and down the line and defending and connecting with the back four,” Wegner said. “In the middle I try to change the point of attack, find the ball as much as I can, go forward and break pressure lines.”

Usually he will play these two positions the whole game, but not in all situations. During the game against Wisconsin, Wegner started out in the midfield, but by the end of the game, he played right back, too.

“I try to do whatever job my coach asks me to do, and obviously there are differences in both of them, but I think I have the ability to do both,” Wegner said. “I just do whatever is best for the team.”

Wegner’s physicality has also helped him on the field. He said it comes naturally to him, as he has always been aggressive on the field and wants to do whatever he can to win the ball. He also said to win a soccer game, one needs to be physical.

Bennett said many people don’t want to wait for opportunities to play, so he likes the fact that Wegner is in it for the long haul. He said he knows Wegner will play anywhere for him.

“Knowing Zak, he’d play anywhere we wanted him to play,” Bennett said. “(He’d) play goalie if we wanted because he wants to stay on the field.”

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