IUPUI - Three Star Recruiting Class - The Jaguars will enter the 2013 season seeking to build on their 6-10-2 overall record and 3-4-0 mark in Summit League play last year. Their chances of doing that will likely hinge on four things: the play of sophomore Eduardo Cortes in goal, the ability of senior forwards Ian Block (3g, 1a) and Gregory Efiom (1g, 1a) among others to improve offensive productivity, the extent to which the thirteen member recruiting class can contribute immediately, and last but not least the ability of the Jaguars to remain injury free.
IUPUI has some big shoes to fill on the offensive side of the ball due to the graduation of midfielder Kyle Hyland (8g, 2a) who led the Summit League in scoring with eight goals last year. Hyland subsequently became the first player in IUPUI history to earn a spot on an MLS team roster when he signed a homegrown contract with the Columbus Crew. Overcoming the loss of the offensive productivity that Hyland brought to the pitch will be difficult. The Jaguars will also be without defensive midfielder Joshio Sandoval due to graduation. Sandoval was a steady performer, three year starter, and team captain. Both Hyland and Sandoval were 2012 All-Summit League Second Team selections.
The Jaguar defense and perhaps the immediate future of the program will be built around Cortes in goal. Cortes had a banner freshman season between the pipes last year and was named the Summit League Goalkeeper of the Year. He posted five shutouts with a 1.34 goals against average and on four different occasions was named the Summit League Defensive Player of the Week. The experience Cortes gained last year should prove to be beneficial particularly in close games in 2013.
Sophomore Michael Sass, a 2012 All-Summit League Second Team member, returns in the back along with sophomore Clint Hoffar (0g, 3a). The starting experience Sass and Hoffar gained last year should bode well for their performance in 2013. Junior Tyler Drumm is among other returning players who looks to be in the mix in the back or in the midfield in 2013.
Transfer Lance Davis from Indiana University who joined the program in the spring looks to be well positioned for a starting role in the back or elsewhere. IUPUI head coach Isang Jacob stated, "He's (Davis) a true left-footed attacking player and with the system we're going to play, he's going to have a lot of opportunity to excel." Freshmen Cameron Knox, Benjamin Ogedegbe, and Sam Stronczek are among the newcomers who should be in the hunt for playing time in the back.
The midfield will require significant rebuilding and is a potential area of concern. Sophomore Olayode Ahmed who played in sixteen contests last year and sophomore Fumio Himeno who saw action in fourteen games are among returning midfielders with experience that should play key roles. Evan Smith from Greencastle, Indiana and Cristian Soto from Greenwood, Indiana are among a group of incoming midfielders who appear to have the potential to make an immediate impact.
Last year the Jaguars found the back of the net a total of nineteen times while allowing opponents to score a total of twenty-seven times. Those two vital statistics need to be reversed in order for IUPUI to significantly up its win total in 2013. For that to happen Block and Efiom will likely have to lead the way up-top. Freshmen forwards Jonny Williams and Ayodele Makinde are among the newcomers who could add an additional dimension to the IUPUI offense.
Last year the Jaguars sustained a rash of injuries in the early going and it was midseason before everyone was healthy and ready to go. Avoiding injuries is a critical success factor in 2013 as depth on both sides of the ball continues to be a major concern along with the fact that IUPUI is still overly dependent upon newcomers to plug many of the gaps. The biggest question mark appears to be offensive productivity. More stability on the defensive side of the ball may help offensive productivity. If the Jaguars can figure out how to resolve offensive productivity while also improving on the defensive side of the ball they should see an increase in their win total.
Despite the uncertainties, there are reasons for optimism at IUPUI. A solid core returns upon which to build, the recruiting class has impressive credentials, and attendance is up due in part to the fact that the Jaguars now play their contests on campus at Carroll Stadium.
Isang Jacob will enter his third season at the helm of the program in 2013 with a 12-20-4 overall record. Jacob has plenty of experience and knows what it takes to build a winning program. Regardless, the bottom line is that IUPUI is a program that is a work in progress and a team that is still searching for the right blend of talent and commitment to gel as a team.
Can the Jaguars compete for the Summit League title in 2013? Sure, but everything will have to break just right for that to happen.
Vinny Bonano - Midfield - Evansville, Indiana - Evansville Memorial - Third Team ISCA All-State. First Team All-City, All-Metro. Plays club soccer for SWISA FCE.
Lance Davis - Midfield/Defender - Washington, Indiana - Washington High School - Transfer from Indiana University with three years of eligibility remaining. NSCAA High School All-American. All-State.
Patrick Henry - Midfield - Cincinnati, Ohio - McNicholas High School - Played for the Ohio Elite Soccer Academy. Second Team Division II All-Ohio selection. First-Team All-League selection.
Cameron Knox - Defender - Indianapolis, Indiana - North Central High School - Second Team All-State. First Team All-District. Played for USSDA Indiana United.
Christian Lomeli - Goalkeeper - Lake Forest, Illinois - Lake Forest High School - Played for Chicago Fire Academy.
Juan Lopez - Midfield - Houston, Texas - Chavez Purdue Calumet - Played for the Houston Dynamo Academy Team. All-District as a junior in high school.
Ayodele Makinde - Forward - Chicago, Illinois - Hampshire High School - Played for Sockers FC Chicago since 2009.
Benjamin Ogedegbe - Defender - Leesburg, Virginia - Tuscarora High School - Played for USSDA McLean Youth Soccer Academy. Second Team All-State. First-Team All-Region. Virginia ODP team.
Kirklin Ring - Midfield - Loudonville, Ohio - Loudonville High School - Played for USSDA Cleveland Internationals Academy team. First Team United Independent Soccer Conference.
Evan Smith - Midfield - Greencastle, Indiana - Greencastle High School - Eighteen goals and fifty-three assists in high school. Played for the South Central Soccer Academy.
Cristian Soto - Midfield - Greenwood, Indiana - Center Grove High School - Played for USSDA Indiana United Academy. ISCA First Team All-State.
Sam Stonczek - Defender - Fort Wayne, Indiana - Canterbury High School - Played for the Fort Wayne Fever. Named to the 94-95 Super Y-League ODP Select B Team at the IMG Academy.
Jonny Williams - Forward - Loveland, Ohio - Loveland High School - Played for the Ohio Elite Soccer Academy. Eastern Cincinnati Conference Athlete of the Year. First Team All-Ohio.