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Indiana Men’s Soccer: 2015 Season Preview


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  • With the regular season opener against St. John’s less than three weeks away, Indiana men’s soccer is eager to rebound from its one-and-done exit in last year’s NCAA Tournament and prove that it has the makings of a true conference and national title contender in Coach Todd Yeagley’s sixth season.

The work is certainly cut out for the Hoosiers to improve on last season’s marks of 12-5-5, runner-up in the Big Ten tournament and a 5-seed in the NCAA Tournament – the 28th consecutive appearance and 39th overall. Nine opponents on the 2015 schedule qualified for the 48-team field in 2014, continuing the eight-time national champion’s tradition of facing one of the nation’s toughest. Only three of those nine matches – Notre Dame on Aug. 30, Ohio State on Oct. 10 and Louisville on Oct. 20 – will be played in Bloomington.

 

The high expectations were confirmed after Indiana won four of five against a high quality stretch of opponents in the spring, defeating Indy Eleven, Notre Dame, Butler and the Mexico U-17 National Team in addition to netting two on professional side Louisville City FC.

 

The NSCAA’s preseason No. 14 team contains an abundant supply of talented upper and underclassmen led by seven returning regular starters, five of which started all 22 games. That depth hopes to mitigate the departures of defenders Patrick Doody and Kerel Bradford, midfielders Jamie Vollmer and Dylan Lax, and forward Andrew Oliver, a group that scored or assisted on 24 of last season’s 35 goals.

 

The attack will frequently run through the two members of the 2014 All-Big Ten First Team: senior Femi Hollinger-Janzen and junior Tanner Thompson, who was named to the 30-man MAC Hermann Trophy Watch list on Wednesday after finishing as a semifinalist for college soccer’s top award in 2014. Thompson was selected as an NSCAA All-American after pacing the Hoosiers in points (15) with six goals and three assists, while Hollinger-Janzen contributed five goals and two assists of his own.

 

Incoming freshman Rees Wedderburn, who last played for English side West Bromwich Albion U-21, is also poised to be a key contributor to an offense that ranked 45th in the country and atop the conference alongside Maryland in goals scored and goals per game (1.59) last season. Expect graduate transfer Ben Maurey from Brown University, senior Kyle Sparks, junior Richard Ballard, sophomores Michael Reidford, Brad Shaw and Michael Gallulo, and freshmen Cory Thomas, Rece Buckmaster and Austin Panchot to see substantial time in the middle and final third.

 

The defensive side of the pitch is commanded by junior goalkeeper Colin Webb and reigning Big Ten Freshman of the Year Grant Lillard, the fifth Indiana player to win the award in the past eight seasons. Lillard is currently training with a select group of top college players at the U.S. U-23 College Identification Training Camp that concludes on Saturday. He also trained with Finnish professional side HJK Helsinki for a week in July, so don’t count on the rising sophomore playing in Bloomington beyond 2015.

 

Senior Matt Foldesy and juniors Billy McConnell, Derek Creviston and Phil Fives, who sat out 2014, are also expected to be staples in the Hoosier defense that looks to improve on last season’s goals against average of 0.96, which ranked 60th in the country and sixth in the Big Ten. Look for sophomores Jack Griffith and Trevor Swartz as well as freshmen Tim Mehl, Andrew Gutman and Jeremiah Gutjahr to challenge for starts in the holding midfield and backline positions.

 

Projected starting 11:

 

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Indiana will play three exhibitions – two in Bloomington with Valparaiso and Western Michigan on Aug. 17 and 20, respectively, and the third against Marquette in the ShinDigz National Soccer Festival in Fort Wayne on Aug. 22 – before kicking off the regular season in the Adidas/IU Credit Union Classic in Bloomington with St. John’s and Notre Dame beginning on Aug. 28.

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I'm excited to see what Wedderburn can do. I spoke with a player currently on the team about a month ago who said he hadn't seen him play and didn't know anything about him until the press release from the team itself. TT can pull the strings from midfield and it will be nice to have an experienced finisher in Maurey up top. For this team to improve Femi will need to become better in front of goal and they'll need a bit of scoring from the bench in Thomas and Sparks. Lillard will likely be the best player on the pitch in the majority of games.

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i concur with all of that, burch, and i'm really excited to see what buckmaster can do.  he was recently in the US u17 picture and ranking sites put him on top of IU's class (excluding wedderburn).  i've read that west brom wanted to extend wedderburn -- who's played for the club since he was 12 -- and some other english clubs were interested in him.  his interest in IU began when another youth player in england suggested IU's program.  that says something about the program's clout.  imagine a highly convincing sell was needed to bring him across the pond.  maybe he's genuinely interested in a few years' worth of college education.  hope so, because it sounds like yeagley got a hell of a player.

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Can anyone give me some info on this Wedderburn kid? I'm kind of confused on the logistics of how he was able to come from the West Brom system to play in the NCAA.

A) Why not stay overseas in a big time development system?

B ) How does the amateurism side of that work? I'm under the impression that even youth academy players are paid.

C) I'm assuming he's pretty good. But how good?

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surely if west brom was paying him then he wouldnt be ncaa eligible.  from what i understand (or tried to understand as i read this), playing in an academy is similar to being a collegiate student-athlete, except there arent really classes, just training in soccer and social skills, nutrition, exercise, basically how to be a pro soccer player on and off the field.  thats the form of compensation which leads to a professional contract.  it seems the term 'contract' in regard to academies means, after being accepted/invited, enrolling in their program for x years and establishing player rights, legality stuff.  wedderburn's contract with west brom expired june 30.  so like i said above, a college education must've been enticing for him to leave all of that and what he's used to.

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if the players simply shook off some rust and elevated their 'game shape' yesterday night, it was productive.  the only exhibition worth taking seriously, though not fully so like an official match, is marquette.

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