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Tuesday, June 18
The Indiana Daily Student

sports men's soccer

Despite player departures, IU men's soccer still enters season ranked No. 1

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Throughout last season’s championship-winning campaign, the IU men’s soccer team was led by goalkeeper Luis Soffner, defender Caleb Konstanski and forward Eriq Zavaleta.

Each of them have left IU. Konstanski and Soffner used up all of their eligibility, and Soffner and Zavaleta were drafted into Major League Soccer.

All three men started each of the Hoosiers’ 24 matches, giving IU Coach Todd Yeagley something soccer coaches want: consistency and solid play through the middle of the field.

With Soffner, Zavaleta and Konstanski no longer part of the team, the Hoosiers will have to fill the voids left by these players’ departures.

“Those are the positions that if you could choose not all three to go at one time, those would be the spots,” Yeagley said. “It’s only three starters, but it’s three crucial starters.”

Despite the loss of last season’s leaders, IU returns with eight starters and was voted by the Big Ten coaches the preseason No. 1-ranked squad.

Much of the Hoosiers’ depth lies in the midfield, where senior captains Harrison Petts and Jacob Bushue will link up with seniors A.J. Corrado and Nikita Kotlov, juniors Patrick Doody and Dylan Mares, and freshman Tanner Thompson.

“I think we’ll have one of the top midfields in the country, if not the best one,” Bushue said. “We’re going to cause teams a lot of problems, and I think it’s one of our strengths, as well as our defense. It’s just going to be a good team, I think.”

The Hoosier midfielders will attempt to create goal-scoring chances for IU forwards, such as sophomore Femi Hollinger-Janzen, who scored four goals last season as a backup striker and was part of the 2012 Big Ten All-Freshman Team.

As for defending the goal, a three-man battle for the starting position has yet to be officially decided, but Yeagley indicated that sophomore Michael Soderlund currently stands as the likely choice between the posts.

Yeagley said he wants to make whoever the eventual starter is feel comfortable going into the season.

“Ideally you want someone coming back who feels that, and I think Mike does feel that based on the spring. He got 15 games this summer, which is exactly what he needed just to see situations, manage players in front of him,” Yeagley said. “It’s right back to where competition is going to drive Mike.”

At this point, Soderlund is the favorite to land the starting spot, Yeagley said, adding it’s important to establish who’s No. 1.

“Whether you give him the job that day, you want them to feel like they are, and Mike feels it,” Yeagley said.

Despite earning the preseason No. 1 ranking, Bushue said he’s not worried about outside expectations.

“IU always has a target on their back,” he said. “Everybody always wants to beat IU. I guess you could say there’s a little bit of an added pressure, but we’re not really feeling it. We’re up for the task, we know what we need to do. We’re ready to get the season rolling and win some games.”

Follow Alden Woods on Twitter @acw9293.

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