Wojcik leads Bradley soccer on and off the field

Four years ago, Wojciech Wojcik came to Bradley’s soccer program and immediately made an impact on the pitch.

The senior forward scored the game-winning goal in his college debut and never looked back.

Nearly 60 games later, Wojcik is a captain and the leading returning scorer in a program that has been to the NCAA tournament two of the last three years. He will be relied on heavily as the Braves look to make a push back to the national tournament this season.

Wojcik began playing soccer when he was 8-years-old after his uncle took him to a practice. At first, he wasn’t a huge fan of soccer and liked basketball more. But that quickly changed as he became a member of the Chicago Fire Academy, a club team that travels around the country playing in tournaments.

Wojcik starred at Elmwood Park High School, located in a northwest suburb of Chicago. During his senior season, he scored 19 goals and added 12 assists while being named the Most Valuable Player in the Metro Suburban Conference.

Despite his success, Wojcik said he has still improved a lot as a player since arriving on campus in 2010.

“When I came here coach [DeRose] really stressed the mental side of the game and I’ve really grown stronger in that as the years have gone bye,” he said. “My mentality has changed to be more focused, to be ready for every training and every game. Just giving my best effort in all categories whether that’s in practice, in the weight room or in games.”

Talking to Wojcik, it doesn’t take long to realize he is an unselfish person and player. He said the one moment on the field in his first three seasons that sticks out the most to him came during his freshman year when he was on the bench.

The game was the semi-finals of the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament against Creighton at Shea Stadium in 2010. The Braves fell behind 2-0 but battled back to tie the match in the second half. Keith Mach netted a goal in the 88th minute to give Bradley the upset over the No. 12 Bluejays and ultimately a trip to the NCAA tournament.

“We were all going wild on the bench,” Wojcik said. “It was one of the greatest goals I’ve ever seen. [Senior defenseman] Scott Davis was even getting thrown up in the air. I’ll never forget that.”

Wojcik has grown from a role player behind former Bradley soccer stars like Bryan Gaul to the guy the team looks to on and off the field.

“I want to be that guy the younger guys can come to ask questions if they have any concerns on or off the field,” Wojcik said. “I want to be a leader. On the field, I look to be a facilitator. I look to score goals. Obviously winning games and doing whatever I can to put the team in the best position to win games is my biggest concern as captain.”

With just one season left, Wojcik said the team has big goals. After reaching the NCAA tournament in his first two seasons, Wojcik said he wants to return after losing in the first round of the conference tournament a year ago.

“Everything is still on the table,” he said. “We still have those same expectations that we can reach the [NCAA] tournament. It’s kind of a day-to-day thing where you go out and play as hard as you can and prepare for the next game. We’re focused and we’re ready to go.