IU Soccer: Sweet 16?
I suspect that IU is actually a better team than even the RPI and NCAA tourney seed ranking it has received (12 & 14, respectively). IU had nothing to play for in the final game at Ohio State, and the match that they dropped in the tourney was against a good team (Penn State) who was also playing at home. Although the Hoosiers showed some effort, PSU essentially just out-hustled them for the win. I do want to mention that Jacob Bushue's poor passing essentially crippled the IU attack for much of the game. There's no doubting that kid's fire and future potential, but if he continues to shank the ball so miserably, I'd suggest Cam Jordan actually see some minutes?
My prediction for the Hoosiers in the NCAA's is that they will go out in the round of sixteen, but just because their low seed means they'll be playing at Akron that round. I simply don't think these Hoosiers will be win at Akron. Can they? Of course! But it ain't likely.
Individual Player Grades
(derived strictly from the season box score & watching the BTN games)
Will Bruin (A) A man among boys, just amazingly fast for being so big and strong. He could be a little better finishing with his head, and the fact that only three of his goals have been game-winners is a bit of a head-scratcher, but this guy is good. I hope IU doesn't lose him to the pros, but I wouldn't be surprised.
Andy Adlard (B+) Adlard is the set-piece master, and has been a solid presence as an attacking midfielder for the Hoosiers. Not the quickest player or a real ball-winner, but an integral part of the Hoosier offense.
Alec Purdie (B+) He has really grown into a solid striker, but still has a bit of a quick trigger, both on shots (reflected in his low sog%) and emotionally. Good scrapper, tho.
Harrison Petts (A-) The real deal as a freshman. Good attacking instincts, and tracks back well on defense, too. Tends to get a little passive on occasion, he should be demanding the ball more.
Nikita Kotlov (B+) Great at throw-ins, and a dangerous attacker. I don't think I've ever seen Nikita be passive, but he does rather like to try to dribble through four defenders.
Chris Estridge (B+) Has great touch dribbling the ball and is a good two-way player, but I do wonder if he shouldn't be starting in the backfield. His shot-on-goal percentage is the lowest of any non-back.
Jacob Bushue (B) A truly impressive competitor for being a freshman. Reminds me a lot of Caleb Porter as a sophomore, really just getting the heads of the competition and pissing them off. Similarly, his passing is sometimes just lousy, and he's no threat to score. But he's obviously the future at defensive-midfielder for IU.
Daniel Kelly (B+) Has there been a game where Kelly didn't go down with an apparent season-ending injury, only to show back up in the starting line-up the next game? 'Cause I do think I've seen it. Kelly's been a good two-way player, and serves some sweet bendy-balls into the box. He also has boomed a few well over the goal as well.
Rich Balchan (B+) When Balchan is healthy and going at speed, he ignites some electrifying runs out of the back. However, I've never seen them amount to anything in the final third of the field. Also, Balchan more than anyone else seems to have some deadly miscues in the backfield. If I were coaching (and thankfully Todd is) I'd be interested in switching Balchan & Estridge.
Tommy Meyer (A-) I'm throwing out the botched first goal at PSU here, because Tommy secured his man on the loose ball and the PSU attacker came out of nowhere- and his defender should've warned Meyer. Meyer has touch on the ball and has been a solid defender this year. He's not much of an offensive threat, but that's not his role.
Caleb Konstanski (A-) Caleb really grew in the offseason to be a lock-down defender, and during the year it seems he grew into an offensive threat as well. He's actually been pretty unlucky not to score several more goals, but NCAA foes would do well to keep track of him or he'll make them pay.
Luis Soffner (C+) I'm not a fan of Soffner generally, but at least in the PSU game he was coming out and breaking up plays. He's shown some improvement, and has a pro build for goalkeeping, but I just don't see him possessing Keeper's instincts.
Joe Tolen (A-) Tolen's getting this grade for improvement. He's obviously worked hard, and while may not be the fastest or strongest striker out there, has a great booming shot that made Northwestern pay. Really, Harry Weiss didn't have a lot more athleticism than what Tolen's got, and he did pretty well.
Tyler McCarroll (B-) He's not done much that's eye-catching in his minutes off the bench, but he's got good speed and touch and is fine as a sub.
Tim Wylie (B-) ibid.
Cameron Jordan (B) Former starter who's a good sub for the backs or mids. He doesn't have a lot of speed or touch, and makes the occasional miscue. Still, he's a veteran presence who should be helpful if IU finds itself in a tough situation in the tournament.
Matt McKain (B) McKain's done well when filling in for injuries or suspensions. A possible starter next year.
Nate Mitchell (B-) Even though Mitchell has a 2.00 Goals-against-average, he seems to be part of good wins for the Hoosiers and I like his instincts. I don't think he's the answer between the pipes for IU, either, but I'd want him as my goalie rather than Soffner in a PK shootout.