Sports

Plotkin, Nguyen nab honors

Big Ten awards announced before IU ousts Wisconsin

POSTED AT 12:00 AM ON Nov. 11, 2005 

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On the same day that Brian Plotkin was named Big Ten Player of the Year and Lee Nguyen was named Big Ten Freshman of the Year, the Hoosiers advanced to the second round of the Big Ten tournament.

Without the services of Plotkin, the team's leader in points, the IU men's soccer team relied on other veteran leaders to advance into the semifinals of the Big Ten tournament with a 2-0 victory over Wisconsin Thursday afternoon. Plotkin was serving a one-game suspension for picking up his fifth yellow card of the season against Akron during a Nov. 3 game.

Senior midfielder Jordan Chirico, junior forward Jacob Peterson and freshman foward Lee Nguyen picked up the offensive responsibilities left by Plotkin, a senior midfielder.

"I thought we came out and played very well in the first half," IU coach Mike Frietag said. "We cruised a bit in the second half, but we were able to pull out the win."

The Hoosiers (12-1-6) will look to redeem themselves Friday when they play Ohio State in the semifinals 19 days after IU tied the Buckeyes in "one of the most disappointing games" of Freitag's career.

Since the tie, the Hoosiers have compiled a record of 3-0-1 and have risen to No. 2 in the coaches' poll. During that stretch, the cream and crimson knocked off previously unbeaten No. 1 Akron and had a three-goal comeback in the final 17 minutes at Maryland, the current No. 1 team in the nation.

After the first game with the Buckeyes, the Hoosiers know they cannot take any opponent lightly.

"If we get up this time there is no way we are going to give it up," Chirico said. "Now we are in the Big Ten Tournament so there is a lot more on the line."

In the quarterfinal victory over Wisconsin, Chirico put the Hoosiers on the scoreboard 13 minutes into the game when he slid the ball under the Badger goalkeeper on a give-and-go play from Nguyen. It was the third goal for Chirico this season and the 12th assist for Nguyen during his rookie campaign, breaking the IU freshman record held by assistant coach Todd Yeagley.

"It is an honor to get the record," Nguyen said. "I'm just glad to play on a team with such good players who can finish. It's easy when you know they will produce."

IU had several chances to extend its lead before halftime. With less than three minutes remaining in the first half, senior forward Mike Ambersley played a ball to freshman Kevin Noschang, who pushed the ball to sophomore defender Charley Traylor. Badger goalkeeper Jake Settle denied Traylor's shot from finding the top left corner of the goal.

The Hoosiers withstood three dangerous scoring chances by the Badgers in the second half to hold onto the one goal lead. In the final minute of play, Peterson iced the game with an 18-yard shot on a pass from Ambersley. Peterson's 10th goal of the season moved him into a tie for 19th place on the all-time Hoosier career goal list.

The IU defense recorded its 12th shutout in 19 games this season as the Hoosiers out-shot the Badgers 12-5. The IU defense is ranked sixth in the nation for shutout percentage and ranks 15th in goals allowed per game, giving up .67 goals per contest.

"The defense played very well for us tonight," sophomore goalie Chris Munroe said. "In the second half they played especially well when (Wisconsin) threw so many people at us trying to get the equalizer."

With two games left before the NCAA tournament, the Hoosiers are trying to prove to the selection committee that they are worthy of a top-four seed once the tournament begins Nov. 20. A Big Ten Championship would all but secure the home field advantage that comes with the sought after seeding.

"We are gunning for a Big Ten Championship because what it can do for us (with NCAA seeding)," Munroe said. "However, right now we are focused on Ohio State. They tied us at our place so we know it's going to be a tough contest."

 

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