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Quest for Nine: The Indiana Men's Soccer 2014 Season Preview

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Coming off a disappointing 8-12-2 season, the men's soccer team opens its season tonight at home against Georgetown, who they beat in the national title game two years ago.

Can Femi lead a young Hoosier team to another College Cup?
Can Femi lead a young Hoosier team to another College Cup?
USA TODAY Sports Images

Two years ago, the IU men's soccer program had a terrific season, as the Hoosiers won their eighth national title, and the first title for head coach Todd Yeagley. Last year, however, the team took a step back, losing several overtime games and having an abysmal 1-7 road record. Despite finishing under .500 for the regular season, the team managed to win the Big Ten tournament, earning an automatic bid into the NCAA tournament. However, the Hoosiers could not repeat last year's surprise run, as they lost to Akron in the first round.

This season, the Hoosiers return to the pitch as a young team with a lot of potential. As a result, they will have a lot to prove, since they are unranked going into the season, only receiving 11 votes in the NSCAA Coaches preseason poll. Four conference opponents were ranked in this poll - Maryland (2nd), Michigan State (10th), Penn State (15th), and Wisconsin (21st).

Indiana has lost several of its starters coming into this season. Tommy Thompson turned pro after one year of collegiate play, and now plays in the MLS for the San Jose Earthquakes. A.J. Corrado and Nikita Kozlov graduated, as did Jacob Bushue and Matt McKain. Despite the losses, four seniors will hope to provide veteran leadership for the squad, including midfielders Dylan Lax and Jamie Vollmer, and defenders Patrick Doody and Kerel Bradford. Junior Femi Hollinger-Janzen, who tied for most goals scored by a Hoosier last season with five, leads the attack for IU.

The team split its preseason games, losing 1-0 at home against Xavier and winning 1-0 against Washington up in Fort Wayne. The Hoosiers open up their season tonight - that's right, tonight! - in Bloomington, as they host the Adidas/IU Credit Union Classic this weekend. The young team will face some stiff competition against two ranked Big East teams at Jerry Yeagley Field at Bill Armstrong Stadium. The Hoosiers play ninth-ranked Georgetown at 8 p.m. tonight, then face 12th-ranked Marquette (in what I'll refer to as The Crean Bowl) at 2 p.m. on Sunday. Next weekend, the Hoosiers head up to South Bend for a two-game tournament, then play five of their next six in Bloomington.

After road games against Louisville and Ohio State, the Hoosiers play two home games in a row that will demonstrate how far the team has progressed during the season. On October 19, IU will host preseason No. 2 Maryland, and as you're well aware, the Terrapins are now in our conference, which raises the stakes even further. Three days later, the Hoosiers host top-ranked Notre Dame, who won last year's national championship. The Hoosiers follow up these tough competitions with three straight road games, then close their regular season on November 5 with a home game against 10th-ranked Michigan State.

The team plays in Bill Armstrong Stadium, which of course is also home to the Little 500. Games are fun and inexpensive affairs, since they are free for students and only $5 for adults, and feature a raucous fan section in the Hoosier Army. With 10 true freshmen on the roster, it's hard to say now how the team will progress, but luckily, the hardest part of the schedule comes later in the season. If IU can carry some momentum from the tough late stretch into the Big Ten tournament, then the team might be able to have another memorable postseason.