Sports

IU searching for consistent play in Big Ten

POSTED AT 12:00 AM ON Sep. 29, 2006 

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Consistent.

While a lot of words describe the performance of the IU men's soccer team, 'consistent' is not among them.

The team has shown glimpses of greatness, showing the potential to win an eighth NCAA championship for IU. On other nights the Hoosiers look more like a middle of the pack squad in the Big Ten.

After Wednesday night's dominating performance against the University of Kentucky, the Hoosiers (5-3-2) look to put together back-to-back performances as the cream and crimson travel to East Lansing, Mich., to take on Michigan State Sunday.

The game carries extra importance because the Hoosiers came away with only a tie in the Big Ten opener against Michigan Sept. 24.

"It's a big game for us because we tied our first Big Ten game," junior defender Charley Traylor said. "Obviously a big goal each year is to win the Big Ten regular season as well as the tournament, so we need a win this weekend, and we are ready for it."

The Spartans come into the matchup with a record of 6-2-1 overall. The game is a must-win for the Spartans as well since they have a 0-1-1 record in Big Ten play. The Hoosiers will have to stop junior forward Kenzo Webster, who leads the Spartans with five goals this season.

"Michigan State has had good results up to this point," IU coach Mike Freitag said. "I expect for them to come out firing."

The Hoosier defense is coming together, posting two shutouts in its last three games. By playing more together, the defense has had better communication as the season has progressed, Traylor said.

"I thought our backs communicated very well (against Kentucky)," he said. "I think that's the key for staying organized in the back."

Senior forward Kevin Robson will lead the Hoosier attack. Robson, the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week, is second on the team with nine points on three goals and three assists. More than just statistics, Robson has brought intensity and leadership to the team this season, Freitag said.

"Roby's been outstanding," he said. "He lives and dies Indiana soccer. He will find that little extra to make it happen, and that's good for the younger guys."

Although the team has had its up and downs this season, Robson said he likes the direction the team is heading and thinks the best performance is yet to come for the Hoosiers.

"I think things are starting to click," Robson said. "We have that mentality where we feel like we out-work teams."

To get that better performance, the offense needs to score goals, something the Hoosiers have had difficulty with this season.

"We dominated the game we tied, but we weren't able to get it done up top to get goals," Ackley said. "I feel like we are definitely going to light it up this weekend."

With the Big Ten season just six games, each game is important for the Hoosiers if they want a 12th conference championship.

"It's very important," Freitag said. "We already dropped a win against Michigan, so we have to do well the rest of the way out."

 

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