Here's the second part of the IU Men's Soccer Season Preview, a quick review of the personnel and a rough guess at the final outcome of this season for the Hoosiers. This team may be the deepest that Todd Yeagley has ever had, and while the offense could make significant improvements this season, the biggest issue may be how the defensive backline blends together, and which Luis Soffner shows up. Like I said, this is a deep team and Yeagley has a lot of options, but the midfield looks good and the strikers could absolutely feast this season. Personnel review and season predictions below the jump:
#2 Eriq Zavaleta, F: As a true frosh he posted a pretty great statistical splash: 10 goals, 5 assists, a 45.5% shot-on-goal percentage, and hit three game-winners. More importantly, he's a nice target man, a guy you can kick the ball at in the box or up the field, and he can bring it down and do something with it. Look for a star year from #2.
#9 Andrew Oliver, M/F: Blue-chip true frosh was a consensus top 10 prep and ranked as high as second overall nationally when he committed. Should be an instant impact player.
#8 Nikita Kotlov, M/F: When Nikita got healthy, IU's offense took off in conference play. Kotlov + Petts in the midfield= good things.
#7 Harrison Petts, M: So much talent in this kid, but he seemed to get a bit lost in the offense last season, and didn't notch single goal. I'd like to see him a little more attack-minded this season.
#10 AJ Corrado, M: AJ's ability to be a hub of the offense has been a rather welcome surprise.
#17 Jacob Bushue, M: This vicious midfield disruptor reminds more of Caleb Porter than any other player who has since played in the Cream & Crimson. Tough kid.
#15 Jamie Vollmer, M/B: I'm not sure why Vollmer didn't play against UIC, but hopefully he's healthy. He seems to create a lot of good scoring chances off of crosses out of the back.
#5 Matt McKain, D: A capable back who saw a good amount of time off the bench last season.
#22 Caleb Konstanski, D: In the spring season and in exhibition, Konstanski's been putting away the headers he just barely missed over the last couple of seasons. Might be the most talented defensive back on the roster as well.
#19 Patrick Doody, D: As a freshman, he didn't see much time last year, but his designation as default corner kicker had me believing he'd have some Sweeper duties this season. Hopefully, he's ready to lead defensively as well.
#1 Luis Soffner, GK: After two subpar years, Soffner finally had a good year last season, bailing the Hoosiers out a lot in the non-conference schedule and staying steady afterwards. The Hoosiers don't need him to be Tim Howard, just steady.
#12 Joe Tolen, F: Tolen was a hard-working player who got less time after a seeming breakout season in 2010. It'll be interesting to see if he can provide what the offense needs (someone who can finish at the top of the box) or if he's relegated to more bench time this year.
#21 Kyle Sparks, F: This redshirt freshman had a good spring season, and should provide... uh, a lift off the bench.
#14 TJ Popolizio, M/F (graduate student transfer from Brown): Popolizio was a nice windfall, but even after leading the Brown Bears in scoring last season, I don't know that he cracks the starting eleven here. Possible x-factor.
#13 Tim Wylie, F: Fifth-year senior Wylie has never really been able to break through, and there's still a lot of talent ahead of him in the playing rotation.
#6 Femi Hollinger-Janzen, M: This is my sleeper pick of the freshman class. Watch for this guy to contribute sooner rather than later.
#30 Dylan Lax, M: Lax hasn't seen a lot of PT, (one game), but he was the key to the Hoosiers getting the tie in the exhibition game against UIC. This is not a bad time to start showing off your best skills.
#20 Alex Hadley, D (Jr - transfer from UC): I'm curious to see what kind of time Hadley gets (especially against his old Cincinnati team on Sunday) this season. I kind of think he only starts if McKain or Vollmer isn't healthy, or can't handle the load.
#23 Kerel Bradford, D/M: Got a start on the backline against UIC, which is interesting. I'm very interested to see if Bradford embraces a new defensive role, and how good he is at it.
#33 Sean Weidman, GK: Weidman is probably the back-up to Soffner, given Soderlund's problems this last spring.
Deep bench? (#11 Aris Zafieratos, M, #18 Richard Ballard, D, #4 Derek Creviston, D #3 Lance Davis, M/F (RS Fr), Michael Soderlund, GK)
I think the toughest non-conference is going to be at Louisville, and Akron in South Bend will be no slouch, but otherwise most of the other games look winnable: let's guess an 8-2-2 record. Hosting Northwestern in the only regular-season conference match-up will help IU to secure another regular-season Big Ten Championship, say with a 4-1-1 record. So, 12-3-3 overall going into the Conference tourney, which I will go ahead and predict that the Hoosiers win, and go on to the Elite Eight, giving a scare into someone good before falling. Given the depth of talent on hand, I am thisclose to picking them for the Final Four, but there's too many chemistry questions for me to comfortably predict their safe passage into the College Cup.