AJ Middlesteadt

Stoughton’s Jackson Talbert (right) watches as AJ Middlesteadt (10) passes the ball to Colin Holtan during the first half of the regional semifinal Tuesday, Oct. 22, against Milton. Middlesteadt committed to play soccer at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire next year.

Stoughton High School senior A.J. Mittelsteadt recently committed to play soccer at Division III University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire next year.

Mittelsteadt announced his commitment to the Blugolds Sept. 29.

“I get a great opportunity to get a great education and play soccer at the next level,” he said. “It’s just a blessing.”

Mittelsteadt was named second-team Badger South All-Conference as a midfielder last season after scoring 14 goals and racking up seven assists. He helped lead the Vikings to a 9-7-2 record and a third-place finish in the Badger South last year at 4-2-1. Stoughton finished one game behind Monona Grove and 2.5 games behind conference champion Oregon (7-0). The Vikings lost a WIAA Division 2 regional final to eventual state qualifier Elkhorn 4-1.

Mittelsteadt had a breakout junior season scoring five goals in two different games. UW-Eau Claire is expanding its athletic teams in 2021 by reinstating baseball which was discontinued in 1995, adding women’s lacrosse in spring 2021 and men’s soccer in fall 2021.

Mittelsteadt said he played club soccer against the UW-Eau Claire coach and was contacted about playing with the Blugolds.

“I thought there would be an opportunity to play in college,” he said. “I didn’t feel like I would be able to find the right fit, school and coach right away. From a soccer standpoint, the decision came from knowing the teams he played for at the club level.”

The addition of the three sports will increase the number of Blugold athletics teams to 25, including 12 men’s teams and 13 women’s teams.

The new teams are expected to bring in 94 additional student-athletes (42 for baseball, 24 for women’s lacrosse and 28 for men’s soccer) and generate revenues beyond their costs of operation, according to the UW-Eau Claire athletic department.

Mittelsteadt said being one of the first players to build a soccer program also was an appealing draw.

The Stoughton High School Sports Booster Club thanked Mittelsteadt on his accomplishment.

“Congratulations A.J. Mittelsteadt on your commitment to UW-Eau Claire to play soccer at the collegiate level!,” the SHS Sports Booster Club Facebook post read. “We’ll cheer you on as you take the pitch as a BluGolder!”