Indiana – Five Star Recruiting Class – There are no mixed messages or ambiguous goals in Bloomington. Players who elect to play their collegiate soccer at Indiana do so because they want to win a national championship. The Indiana faithful also expect the Hoosiers to win National Championships and that’s just what they did last year earning the programs eighth national title and first since the 2004 season. That accomplishment got the national championship monkey off the back of head coach Todd Yeagley in just his third year at the helm of the program . It also awoke, ignited and united an IU fan base that had become a little bit of a sleeping giant.
Indiana’s run to the national championship last year had to come as a surprise for even the most die hard Hoosier fan after IU was eliminated in in the quarterfinal round of the Big Ten Tournament for the first time ever. While the outcome was unexpected the formula that the Hoosiers used to accomplish it was tried and true. They remained composed, confident, and focused which is a credit to the IU coaching staff, they played absolutely tenacious defense, and they were persistent on the offensive side of the ball.
So what will Yeagley and the Hoosiers do for an encore? Well, Indiana has a lot to be excited about heading into the 2013 season despite the decision of All-American forward Eriq Zavaleta to forgo his final two seasons to enter the professional ranks and the graduation of team captains center back Caleb Konstanski who was a three year starter and goalkeeper Luis Soffner who was a four year starter and the Defensive MVP of the 2012 College Cup.
Not many programs can lose a player that scored eighteen goals including seven game-winners as Zavaleta did last year and still feel good about their chances the following season. Yet that’s the position Indiana appears to be in with eight starters returning including senior midfielder A.J. Corrado (1g, 12a) who was a 2012 First Team All-Big Ten selection and senior midfielders Nikita Kotlov (9g, 4a) and Jacob Bushue (1g, 5a) who were 2012 Second Team All-Big Ten selections.
However, it is clear that the Hoosiers do face a few hurdles heading into the 2013 campaign that must be addressed. Clearly Zavaleta’s scoring prowess will be missed. In addition, it’s back to the drawing board on the offensive side of the ball since IU will have a different look up-top than they had from 2008 through 2010 with Will Bruin leading the attack and in 2011 and 2012 with Zavaleta on the pitch. Both Bruin and Zavaleta were imposing physical target players who were back-to-the-goal scorers and both were IU’s undisputed number one option.
The Hoosiers will likely have a much more balanced attack in 2013 than they have had in the recent past which can be a plus but at this point it is not clear who, if anyone, will be the go-to guy on the offensive side of the ball which could be problematic. The likely candidates to fill that gap are Kotlov (9g, 4a) who has shown the ability to produce big goals in the past, sophomore forward Femi Hollinger-Janzen (4g, 1a) who was a Big Ten All-Freshman selection, midfielder transfer Dylan Mares who found the back of the net seven times at Louisville last year, and highly regarded freshman forward Tommy Thompson who was a prolific scorer in high school.
Sophomore Andrew Oliver (2g, 0a) and redshirt sophomore Kyle Sparks (1g, 0a) are among returning forwards in addition to Hollinger-Janzen. Oliver and Sparks appeared in fifteen contests last year while Hollinger-Janzen appeared in all twenty-four matches. All three should be in the hunt for a greater role in 2013.
The Indiana midfield will be a team strength. Senior Harrison Petts (1g, 2a) is a former Indiana Gatorade Player of the Year whose contribution to this team should not be overlooked, redshirt junior Dylan Lax, and sophomore Richard Ballard who was a 2012 All-Big Ten Freshman selection will combine with seniors Corrado, Kotlov, and Bushue and newcomer Mares to give Indiana a very talented, experienced, and deep group of midfielders that should be able to hold their own with anyone in the country.
The graduation of center back Caleb Konstanski who started 70 of 76 matches during his tenure in Bloomington and was a 2012 All-Big Ten Second Team selection creates some big shoes to fill on the defensive side of the ball. However a solid nucleus returns led by senior right back Matt McKain (0g, 2a), redshirt junior Kerel Bradford, and junior Patrick Doody (0g, 3a). Freshman Billy McConnell should also be in the hunt for playing time in the back.
You have to go back to the 2008 season to find someone other than Soffner who had 32 career shutouts and a 0.93 goals against average as the primary starter in goal. Replacing a four year starter in goal always creates the possibility of a learning curve between the pipes. Redshirt sophomore Michael Soderlund who saw a little action his freshman season and Sean Wediman are the returning netminders. Incoming freshman Colin Webb should also challenge for playing time in goal.
Yeagley will welcome a seven member recruiting class that includes several players that could contribute immediately. Mares who will returns to his home state with two years of eligibility remaining should hit the ground running. Yeagley stated, “Dylan is a special attacking player who will make an immediate impact within our team.”
Indiana will enter the 2013 season on the short list of teams that look to be in the hunt for the national championship. The level of their success in 2013 will likely be influenced by their ability to retool on the offensive side of the ball, the ability of the seniors to provide steady leadership, the play between the pipes, and the extent to which the newcomers help plug the gaps.
Sean Cowdrey – Forward – Silver Spring, Maryland – DeMatha Catholic – First-Team All-Conference. All-County. Played in 2012 High School All-America game. A solid target forward.
Billy McConnell – Defender – Richboro, Pennsylvania – Council Rock North – Ranked by CSN as the number 107 player in the class of 2013. Played club with Players Development Academy.
Tommy Thompson – Forward – Loomis, California – Granite Bay – Played for Blues (NorCal). Ranked by CSN as the number 37 player in the class of 2013. A goal scorer for two seasons at Granite Bay.
Colin Webb – Goalkeeper – San Diego, California – Rancho Bernardo – Member U-15 and U-17 National Team pools. Ranked by CSN as the number 124 player in the class of 2013. Albion SC.
Tanner Thompson – Midfielder – Loomis, California – Granite Bay – Ranked by CSN as the number 54 player in the class of 2013. Great touch on the ball and vision. Played for Blues (NorCal).
Michael Galullo – Midfielder – Indianapolis, Indiana – North Central – First-Team All-State. 2012 Indiana Soccer Player of the Year. NSCAA High School All-American. All-District selection.
Dylan Mares – Midfielder – Zionsville, Indiana – Zionsville Community – Louisville – Big East Rookie of the Year in 2010. Injured in 2011. Netted seven goals in 2012. Two years of eligibility remaining.