Aug. 29, 2007
Different team, same result. Heading into last season, head coach Mike Freitag was leading a group of young, untested players into the unknown. The results were Big Ten regular-season and tournament titles and a third-round NCAA Tournament appearance. It was a strong finish that the Hoosiers are looking to build upon in 2007.
In 2006, junior Chay Cain took over between the pipes, ranking eighth in the nation with a 0.57 goals-against average in 19 starts. His 11 goals allowed ranked among the top 10 in Division I.
Competition breeds success, and competing with the two veterans will be sophomore Joe Andrews and freshman Michael Munroe.
Leading the group is team captain Charley Traylor. The fifth-year senior is a tireless worker who leads by example and was one of just five players to start every game last season, appearing in 21 matches.
Next to Traylor is Greg Stevning. Stevning was a second-team All-Big Ten selection in 2006 after starting 19 matches. Stevning and Traylor are two of just three seniors on the team and will be looked upon to anchor the group.
While he may be young age-wise, sophomore Ofori Sarkodie is a veteran when it comes to the game. Sarkodie traveled with the U-20 National Team to its World Cup in Canada.
Also appearing on the international stage during his summer break was sophomore Kevin Alston. Building upon a freshman season that saw him start 17 of 20 matches, Alston traveled to Brazil in July to compete in the Pan Am Games.
Reliable depth will be key for Indiana this season, as juniors Ian Clair and Nick Sutter and sophomore Kevin Sparks will be called upon to contribute defensively.
Sophomore Eric Alexander and junior John Mellencamp are two people that could line up in front of Ring. Alexander made a successful collegiate debut in 2006, appearing in 22 games and finishing fourth on the team with 10 points.
Mellencamp has quietly worked his way into the starting 11, earning the nod in 13 of 20 matches, finishing with four assists.
On the wings, the Hoosiers will turn to redshirt freshman Daniel Kelly. Kelly was also part of the U.S. contingent at the Pan Am Games in Brazil last summer.
Lee Hagedorn had a great freshman season in 2006, tallying a goal and an assist in 20 matches. Junior Doug Reisinger saw limited action last year.
Joining him up top is junior Brian Ackley. After appearing in just 11 games as a freshman, Ackley stormed onto the scene last season with seven goals and five assists.
Freitag will use a rotation of players up top, giving juniors Kevin Noschang and Billy Weaver a chance to join in on the scoring action. Junior George Tembon and redshirt freshman Neil Wilmarth are also a pair who can provide relief.
There is no questioning Michael Roach's toughness as the St. Louis, Mo., product has battled back from a near-fatal car accident in 2005 to return to the pitch and compete at a higher level. The 2006 NSCAA Missouri Player of the Year led Chaminade College Prep to a state title.
The 2006 Indiana State Champion Carmel Greyhounds produced several Division I players, two of which will take the pitch at Jerry Yeagley Field at Bill Armstrong Stadium this fall. Midfielders Rich Balchan and Tyler McCarroll were part of a team that went a perfect 23-0 last season and ascended to the No. 2 spot in the NSCAA poll.
Forward Max Weston helped lead Worthington Christian to an OHSAA title with a 20-1-1 record. The NSCAA High School All-American was the Division III Ohio Player of the Year in 2006.
Rounding out the group is Alec Purdie from Elkhart, Ind. The first-team All-State selection was also named an NSCAA High School All-American.
The adidas/IU Credit Union Classic should be just that-- a classic. Indiana will take on 2005 NCAA Champion Maryland on Friday, August 31, and 2006 NCAA runner-up UCLA on Sept. 1.
The second of three consecutive tournaments takes IU to the Mike Berticelli Memorial at Notre Dame where it will face Northern Illinois (Sept. 7) and Rhode Island (Sept. 9). The following week sends the Hoosiers the St. Louis/Nike Soccer Classic to play Creighton (Sept. 13) and the host Billikens (Sept. 15).
The team begins defense of its Big Ten title on Sept. 29 at Michigan. A mid-week non-conference game at Louisville (Oct. 10) serves as a prelude to a match with 2006 NCAA Tournament Cinderella Northwestern (Oct. 14)
The regular season wraps up on the road at Kentucky (Oct. 31) and Wisconsin (Nov. 3).
"Our goals entering the season are to win the Big Ten title and make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament," Freitag said. "I want this team to play to its potential, and if it does then we will be successful."