Fall sports preview
August 27, 2013
It’s the start of the fall season, days are getting shorter and temperatures are supposed to start cooling off over the next days, weeks and months. In the world of college athletics, the start of the fall season means fresh starts, high hopes and new beginnings. The start of school means seasons are set to begin, the Jaguars have plenty of reasons to be optimistic about what lies ahead.
Head Coach Steve Payne’s volleyball team is coming off a Summit League Regular Season crown and will host the 2013 conference tournament in its home gym in November. More importantly, a number of key faces return from last year’s squad, including sophomore Kaitlyn Hickey and seniors Moriah Fair, Alexis Meeks and Kortni Wright. The Jaguars won 22 times a year ago and it’s not out of the question to see that total rise in 2013. Fair and Hickey combined on 738 kills last season while Meeks turned in a team-high 6.4 assists/set.
The Jaguars’ challenging slate begins with the Hampton Inn Invitational inside The Jungle on Aug. 30-31 when IUPUI hosts Illinois State, VCU and Florida Gulf Coast. Later in the year, IUPUI will take on the likes of Morehead State (Sept. 7), Ohio State (Sept. 13), South Florida (Sept. 20) and Northwestern (Sept. 22). The Summit’s automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament will be on the line when the Jaguars’ host the six-team conference tourney from Nov. 22-24.
IUPUI was recently chosen as co-favorite to win the league in 2013, along with IPFW.
"It is exciting to be tabbed the co-favorite with IPFW, and that shows the parity in this league as any team really has a shot for the top spots in the conference," Payne, the 2012 Summit League Coach of the Year, said. "Our team worked extremely hard last season to win the regular-season title and definitely deserves to be picked at the top. Now we have to work harder as we are now the team everyone is looking to take down."
The IUPUI men’s soccer team will look for a resurgent season in 2013 after notching six wins a year ago. Head Coach Isang Jacob’s squad is a mix of young and old with sophomore Eduardo Cortes the brightest star of the bunch. Cortes, a Texas-native, earned Summit League Goalkeeper of the Year honors last season and ranked among the nation’s elite in total saves as a freshman. In front of him, he’ll rely heavily on the defensive presence of classmates Michael Sass and Clint Hoffar, along with talented freshmen Ben Ogedegbe and Cameron Knox.
Offensively, seniors Ian Block and Gregory Efiom will be looked upon to score goals. Sass had three goals and four assists from the back line last season while Block and Efiom teamed for four more goals up top. Other key returners include Fumio Himeno, Olayode Ahmed and Tyler Drumm.
“We’re excited about the season,” Jacob said. “We think we have a good nucleus coming back, led by our Summit League Goalkeeper of the Year. We’ve got a lot of really talented new faces that will make us much deeper and much more dangerous.
“And, it’s our second year on the beautiful turf at Mike Carroll Stadium. That makes it easy for our fans and for students to come over and support our program. We had a great base of crowds last season and we look for even more this year.”
On the women’s side, the Jaguars are primed for a breakout season. After finishing the year strong defensively, seniors Giselle Guzman, Sarah Carlisle and Kristin Pierce will anchor the back line again in 2013. Guzman earned First Team All-Summit League honors last season and yielded just eight goals in eight conference games.
However, Head Coach Chris Johnson’s team struggled to score goals. He’s confident that deficiency was addressed in the offseason. A group of new forwards includes freshmen Tori Minnich, Catherine Raster, Olivia Annee and Alyssa Fox. That crop of rookies will team with returners Taylor Heidorn, Kalli Shepler-Tucker and Sierra Bryant to provide a multitude of goal scoring options.
“When you go into any season, you're just hoping you can score goals. You never know until you get out there and play,” Johnson said. “So far, our forwards have been aggressive and fast getting down the field. I think we’re going to be fun to watch."
Two other sports that have extremely high hopes heading into 2013 are the cross country squads. On the men’s side, legendary Head Coach Chuck Koeppen has his Jaguars ready for the program’s first-ever Summit League title, while the women’s team continues to progress upward under the tutelage of Head Coach Antonio McDaniel.
Koeppen’s men’s team returns virtually everyone from a year ago, including the dynamic sophomore class of Joey Zielinski, Sam Roudebush, Miguel Lozano and Ryan Cutter. Zielinski was the Jaguars’ top finisher in five of six meets a year ago and Roudebush earned 2nd Team All-Summit League honors with a 12th place conference finish in 2012.
With depth being a key ingredient to successful team scoring in cross country, Koeppen welcomes the return of Zane Cooperider, Pryce Ragains and Mitch Hubner back from injuries a year ago. Other key contributors will include upperclassmen Spencer Burgin, Cody Marowski and Austin Young while Alec Kostelnik, Abiel Mogos and Damon Pruett are among the team’s top newcomers.
“We’ve got a really good group of guys,” Koeppen said. “They show up, work hard, go to class and do everything we ask of them. That’s all you can ask for as a coach. A lot of them are just tough as nails when it comes to racing. More than anything, I think with the guys we added, we’ll have a tighter pack and we’re deeper than we’ve ever been.”
On the women’s ledger, McDaniel’s team immediately got better when fifth-year senior Rachel Zajac opted to run another season for the Jaguars. She and junior Jordan Hanaway should lead the Jaguars’ pack, along with sophomore Leah Brooks. Like the men’s team, the women’s squad also has depth in the form of sophomores Julie Riggins and Lexi Hunt, junior Amy Mattingly and redshirt freshmen Sydney Chapman and Katie Williams.
This year’s freshman class includes talented in-state preps Jennifer Emery, Savannah Turner and Mandy Campbell.
“Having Rachel back and healthy is huge for us. She gives us that low stick that really helps in scoring,” McDaniel said. “We’ve got a good group along with her. Jordan (Hanaway) has looked good and Leah (Brooks) has been running well. Behind them, we’ve got a group of girls that help push them and make us a better team.”
Supporting the Jaguars all season long is simple. Admission to home games is free and open to the public. In addition, you can follow along on the Jags' website or on Twitter @IUPUIJaguars. As part of the Jaguars’ marketing campaign, fans are urged to use the hashtag #imajaguar throughout the season to be part of the action.