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Friday, Feb. 23
The Indiana Daily Student


Men's soccer faces top teams

Yeagley excited about weekend's IPFW Soccer Showcase, expects IU's opener against host school to be tough

Every coach uses preseason games to evaluate players and answer questions. Who should play where? Who will excel in game situations?\nWho's ready to play the nation's best teams before the season even starts?\nIU soccer coach Jerry Yeagley will get a chance to answer such questions this weekend, when his Hoosiers travel to Fort Wayne to play in the Indiana University-Purdue University at Fort Wayne Soccer Showcase.\nThe showcase features seven NCAA Division I teams and Division II host IPFW. Of the seven Division I teams, four are ranked in the NSCAA's preseason top 20. IU heads that list at No. 1.\nYeagley knows the showcase will give his team a chance to see how they stack up against the nation's premier teams.\nWe're excited about the showcase because it's the first time there's been anything like it, sort of like the basketball NIT," he said. "It's very important to have tough competition early, because you can play weaker teams and have weaker exhibitions and get a false sense of security with your team and feel you don't have any problems.\n"Then you come up later against a top team and realize you've got a lot of things to fix. I'd rather know what I have to fix early and which players can notch it up against top teams, because anybody can look good against average to below-average competition if you're a top level team."\nThe Hoosiers will get two opportunities this weekend to see what needs fixed.\nOn Saturday, they play IPFW in the final game of the day. The Mastodons may be a Division II team, but they're a good one. They're ranked eighth in the NSCAA preseason poll and made it to the elite eight of the NCAA Division II tournament last season.\nShould the Hoosiers win Saturday, they'd play the winner of the No. 7 Duke'No. 20 Rutgers match on Sunday. Should they lose, they'll play the loser of that game.\nYeagley expects both games to be tough.\n"We're going to have a very hard time with (IPFW)," he said. "They're a very strong team, one of the top Division II teams, and they're playing at home. I think that's going to be a very tough game. Then we play the winner of Duke and Rutgers. Both those teams are loaded with talent.\n"Duke, in my opinion, is one of the preseason favorites. They have the nation's top player from last year in Ali Curtis leading their attack. And they return I think seven seniors. It's a very, very strong team. I'd like to get a chance to play them." \nWhile the Blue Devils return several seniors, the Hoosiers are loaded with freshmen, several of whom will see playing time. Five of IU's 10 starting field players from last season are gone, leaving Yeagley with some holes to fill. \nSeveral freshmen have impressed coaches in practice, but they've yet to do so in a game.\n"We have a lot of young players, and we like what we see so far, but we need to see them in a game situation to really be able to judge what they can do," said assistant coach Caleb Porter. "You know, it's a bit inconsistent (right now). We've got a long way to go before we gel, start playing our best soccer. We've got a young team."\nThe Hoosiers may have a young team, but they do not lack veterans. Senior goalkeeper T.J. Hannig is one of them. Hannig has already earned preseason All-American honors, and he's a Hermann Trophy finalist. Like Yeagley, Hannig hopes the Hoosiers benefit from this weekend. \n"(The showcase) is going to be beneficial in a number of ways," Hannig said. "We're going to see top-ranked teams in the country and be able to get a good gauge of how far we've come so far in the preseason and how far we need to go.\n"Second, it's going to give us a chance to test our fitness, see how we do over a weekend in a tournament situation, he added."\nNo matter how the Hoosiers fare this weekend, they'll come away with a better idea of how they stack up against tough competition. Yeagley hopes they'll get a chance to do the same next season.\nIn fact, Yeagley thinks the IPFW Soccer Showcase has the potential to become college soccer's version of basketball's preseason NIT tournament. He knows IPFW coach Terry Stefankiewicz well and encouraged him throughout the process of putting the showcase together.\n"He played for me (at IU)," Yeagley said. "We talk all the time. I did what I could to encourage him and help him in any way I could. I give him a heck of a lot of credit for pulling this off. It was his hard work really. You know, behind every event there's one person basically.\n"Other people have to help, but it was his brainchild and dream. He got it going, and it can be a permanent thing. If Fort Wayne gets behind it and supports it ' I mean, they have a beautiful facility. If the community embraces it and supports it, it could be an annual event"

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