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by Daniel Robertson, Big D Soccer
The word most used by the Creighton BlueJays' players and coaches after the game on Friday night was "frustrated." It's just about the highest compliment you can give to an opposing defense and the Hoosiers certainly did a fantastic job of preventing Creighton from ever getting comfortable.
The prospect everyone was watching for Creighton is senior midfielder Jose Gomez. The small attacking midfielder has torched NCAA defenses all season, but on Friday he struggled to ever get going. You could see the clear talent and vision there in a few passes he made, but without many other offensive options on Creighton, Gomez was left to do most of the work on his own.
Unfortunately, it never really came off for the southern California native and he probably didn't do too much to increase his draft stock. With undeniable skill - he resembles a young David Ferreira out there - Gomez could still raise his draft stock considerably with a good combine.
Where Creighton impressed was at central defense and midfield. They rode their luck a bit, surviving what seemed to be a back-breaking goal before halftime that referees ruled didn't beat the final whistle, but only gave up one goal.
Freshman central defender Brendan Hines-Ike was the pick of the bunch, shutting down Indiana's star sophomore Eriq Zavaleta while even getting forward in attack a time or two. Just a freshman, the former Chivas USA Academy captain could be in line for a Homegrown contract sooner rather than later.
Also impressive for the Blue Jays was defensive midfielder Zach Barnes. He's not a guy that's ever going to score goals, but showed a grit and edge to his game that frustrated AJ Corrado and Zavaleta forcing the Hoosiers to attack almost exclusively down the wins.
The Blue Jays will be disappointed having fallen in the semifinals for the second straight year, but having played five freshman in the match, they'll certainly remain among the NCAA elite for years to come.
by David Rowaan, Waking the Red
Indiana is heading to the finals of the College Cup, and it was thanks to a complete team effort in their 1-0 win over Creighton. The only goal of the game came from Femi Hollinger-Janzen who found himself in space at the back post and blasted the ball home. He almost added a second right on the stroke of half-time but the referees decided that though his shot hit the back of the net, it hadn't gone over the line until after time expired.
The game lacked the high scoring drama of the thriller between Georgetown and Maryland but it did feature a number of top prospects whose stock went up on Friday night. The biggest star for Indiana is Eriq Zavaleta, who was fairly quiet in this game. He found himself double and triple teamed for much of the game and was not able to create much in the way of scoring chances. He did show the other attractive sides of his game though, as he used his big frame to hold the ball up and bring his teammates into the attack. Having netted 18 goals already on the season, he has proven his ability to find the back of the net, but tonight scouts should have taken note that his game is not just about scoring.
Indiana also got a solid performance from Nikita Kotlov. The junior winger did an excellent job of finding space out wide and getting into dangerous locations. His final ball was often a bit lacking though as he under hit several crosses. He had a few flashes of the skill that should make him a top prospect for 2014 though including shaking off his man and ringing a shot off the post in the second half.
On the defensive side, Indiana really put in a team effort. They rarely looked stretched by the Creighton attackers and were able to get their outside backs involved in the attack frequently. They had Patrick Doody making overlapping runs down the side and if the sophomore defender's crossing had been even slightly better he would certainly have caused the Blue Jays even more problems. It was an impressive performance by the unit with the standout being holding midfielder Dylan Lax. By sitting just in front of the back four the red shirt sophomore was able to take away the space that Creighton's start player, Jose Gomez, loves to operate and managed to make him basically a non-factor.
In goal, Luis Soffner, had a very quiet game for around the first 85 minutes but in the final five minutes he showed just why he is one of the top goalkeepers in this year's senior class. First he used every inch of his 6-4 frame to get his hand onto a curling shot and deflect it away from his goal, and then he followed that up by scrambling to get behind a swerving shot to preserve the clean sheet for his side.
The show belonged to a freshman though as it was Hollinger-Janzen that seemed to be completely unfazed by the big stage. He came off the bench for Indian and made all the difference. Besides scoring the winning goal and looking threatening a number of other times he showed that he has the ability to pick out a good pass and beat his man on the dribble. If he continues to perform like that there is no reason that he could not be a pro prospect down the road.
Indiana will want to work on their final ball and getting Zavaleta more involved in the game against Georgetown if they are hoping to take home the cup on Sunday. Tonight though, their players put in the kind of performances that will impress scouts as they did what they had to do to grind out the win.
Maryland went down in College Cup, but a few of their draft prospects did well against Georgetown.
Georgetown advanced to the 2012 College Cup final after a wild penalty shootout victory over Maryland, their first victory over the Terps in school history. Among the standouts in the match for the Hoyas were several MLS prospects:
Steve Neumann: After getting off to a slow start, Steve Neumann lived up to his hype. All three of his goals were phenomenal in different ways, showing off his versatility. He tends to play behind Brandon Allen, allowing him to roam around a bit more. He set up his first goal off a cross from outside the box. The second came from outside the box, which he bent into the top of the goal. His third came off a running pass from Andy Reimer, which he tapped in with ease. He could work on his consistency and accuracy a little bit more, and his set piece deliveries were not the best they could have been. However, it's easy to see why he is so highly rated. I also want to point out his ability to read the game. He finds the space, whether it's to score goals or set them up, and has the ability to really break down defenses. One thing to note - Neumann is a Junior, and it is unclear as to whether or not he will be offered a Generation Adidas contract.
Andy Reimer: One of the top three goal scorers on the Georgetown team prior to today's match, Reimer impressed despite not scoring himself. The right footed flank player showed how much of a threat he can be - he crossed into the box well, and set up Steve Neumann beautifully on Neumann's third. I was also pleasantly surprised to see him tracking back to help the defense. He was reported to have picked up an injury, but he didn't show any signs of this. In the penalty kick shootout, he confidently slotted his home. I don't see Reimer as being a first round pick in the draft, but he has a lot of qualities that could really be an asset to a lot of teams in this league.
Brandon Allen: The freshman phenomenon scored the third goal of the match by capitalizing on a mistake by Maryland's goalkeeper. By intercepting the goal kick and causing the close-range deflection that led to the goal, Allen's ability to pounce on an opponent's sloppy play was evident. Although Neumann took the headlines for the Hoyas with his goals, Allen's potential to break the game open as a traditional central forward gave Maryland's defense concerns. Although the freshman New York Red Bulls Academy product may not be ready to go pro in 2013, his maturity on the field and understanding of the game means he'll be a great prospect sooner or later.
Jimmy Nealis: It was an up and down game against Maryland for the senior left back. On one hand, he was frequently involved in Georgetown's build-up and scoring chances, setting up Neumann's second goal with a terrific aerial cross. He also showed his composure in converting the decisive penalty kick for the Hoyas in the penalty shootout. On the other hand, his team was responsible for giving up a 4-2 lead in the second half. When Nealis did defend, he often looked like he was drifting into the center of the field. In part, that's not surprising since Maryland's goals came through the center of the field. As with many full backs, Nealis will have some questions raised about his defensive abilities at the pro level, but he is one of the best prospects at the position in the draft class.
In one of the most exciting College Cup games in recent memory, Georgetown edged Maryland on penalties after 110 minutes of soccer and eight goals failed to settle the match. The Hoyas had leads at 3-1 and 4-2, but managed to give up two late goals to the Terps. Overtime produced no goals, and Georgetown keeper Tomas Gomez game up huge with two big saves to win the game on penalties after an incredible 4-4 match.
Maryland got on the board first through Schillo Tshuma, who touched in a header by Patrick Mullins in the 22nd minute. Steve Neumann, who is likely to play in MLS next season, fired Georgetown back into the match with two brilliant first half goals, scoring the first from close range and the second with a stellar 25-yard strike. When Georgetown headed into the break up 2-1, it was obvious that both teams where nowhere near done with scoring.
The second half started in absolutely disastrous fashion for the Terps, with Keith Cardona gifting a goal to Brandon Allen. He completely botched what should have been an easy clearance and put the ball off Allen's side. He could only watch as the ball rolled into the net.
Tshuma netted his second of the game in the 57th minute, assisted by Mullins yet again, but it only took Georgetown four minutes to reestablish their lead. Neumann completed his hat trick with a great 61st minute goal, and it looked at that point like Maryland were going to struggle to get back into the game.
Incredibly, the Terps played brilliantly in the next 20 minutes to equalize. Mullins finally got a goal of his own in the 74th minute, and Christiano Francois scored a spectacular equalizer in the 77th minute, stunning the Hoyas. The final 13 minutes of regulation were extremely open, with both sides generating chances, but neither managed to find a winner. The overtime period was less eventful, though Gomez had to make a couple of saves to guide Georgetown into a shootout.
Cardona made a save on Tommy Muller, Georgetown's second penalty taker, but guessed too early to get close to any of Georgetown's other penalty attempts. Both of Maryland's final two penalty takers missed as Gomez came up with massive saves on Taylor Kemp and Helge Leikvang, clinching a dramatic 4-3 win on penalties for Georgetown. For the first time ever, the Hoyas will play in the College Cup final.
Ahead of Friday night's men's College Cup semifinals, Dave Rowaan of Waking the Red takes a look at the potential future MLS players who will be playing in each match.
Steve Neumann - Junior, Forward: The Hoyas forward had a strong season netting seven goals and 13 assists. It may not be enough to earn him a place in the 2013 Generation adidas class, but if he ends up going back to Georgetown for his senior season and can build on those numbers, expect him to be a top attacking prospect for 2014.
Brandon Allen - Freshman, Forward: With 15 goals on the season to his name, the New York Red Bulls academy product is well on his way to eventually earning himself a home grown deal. After spending 2010-2011 in the Red Bulls' academy, he became a top recruit for the Hoyas and has not failed to deliver on expectations this season. 2013 might be too soon for him to sign, but NYRB fans should keep an eye on him as a player who should one day be in their first team.
Ian Christianson - Senior, Midfielder: Christianson has made the most of his four years at Georgetown, developing into a solid holding midfielder. He is not one to jump into the attacking side of things often but his defensive work is enough to at least merit some consideration by the Chicago Fire to sign him to a home grown deal for the 2013 season.
London Woodberry - Senior, Defender: An impressive senior season for Maryland seems to have caught the eyes of FC Dallas, who will certainly have to consider signing him to a Home Grown deal after he has developed into one of the top central defenders in this year's senior class. When you combine his strong defensive game with the fact that he has a knack for chipping in the odd goal, you can see why Dallas is excited about his prospects.
John Stertzer - Senior, Midfielder: With his impressive four-year Maryland career coming to an end, Stertzer is all but a lock to be taken in the first round of the 2013 SuperDraft. Another good year with seven goals and six assists proved once again that he is among the more complete midfielders in the college game. A good College Cup and MLS Combine could see him wind up in the top 10 come draft day.
Patrick Mullins - Junior, Forward: Even with the Generation adidas classes shrinking in recent years, Mullins is still expected to be offered a deal after scoring 16 goals so far in 2012. Having being nameda finalist for the MAC Hermann trophy, he will be one player to watch for any team picking early in this year's draft that might need some help at forward.
Taylor Kemp - Senior, Defender: Limited to just 11 games so far in 2012 by injuries, Kemp has seen his draft stock take a bit of a hit. He has the talent to be a decent defender at the next level but in a draft class that is fairly deep in talent at left back he will need to impress in the College Cup. He's more likely to be a Supplemental Draft pick but could prove to be a steal for someone if he is.
Eriq Zavaleta - Sophomore, Forward: One of those players who could well be left off the Generation adidas class as MLS seems to be moving away from the program, but it he is it would be a shame. He has made a strong case to be included with two game winning goals already in tournament pushing hisseason total to 18 goals. His well rounded game should make him a top pick this year if he does sign a GA deal, but if he returns to Indiana in 2013, college soccer better watch out.
Nikita Kotlov - Junior, Midfielder: He was one of the top recruits in the nation when he joined Indiana
but slipped off the radar for much of his first three years at the school. He is back on it now though, thanks to a series of impressive performances in recent weeks including a hat trick against Xavier inthe second round of the NCAA Tournament. He will need to build on his eight goals and four assists so far in 2012 if he is hoping to be a draft pick in 2014.
Luis Soffner - Senior, Goalkeeper: The 2013 SuperDraft class is looking like it will be a bit light on goalkeeping prospects as other than the possibility of Andre Blake (UConn) signing a Generation adidas deal, there are not many standouts. Soffner has had a solid senior season allowing just 18 goals in 22 games so far and could be a nice addition to a team looking for goalkeeping depth in the draft.
Jose Gomez - Senior, Midfielder: A finalist for the MAC Harmann Trophy, Gomez has used the 2012 season to cement his place as a top prospect for the 2013 SuperDraft. His six goals and nine assists thisyear are impressive totals but it his abilities as a creative midfielder that make him standout in this draft class. The College Cup will give him a chance to show that he has what it takes to handle the physicality of MLS play.
Andrew Ribeiro - Senior, Midfielder: One of the key cogs in the Blue Jays midfield who takes on the task of supporting Gomez. His numbers don't jump off the page with only three goals in 2012, but all of them were game winners as he has proven he can step up when the game is on the line. A strong showing this weekend should help him get selected in the draft even if it is not until the supplemental rounds.
Eric Miller - Sophomore, Defender: Coming into the season he was widely considered to be a possible Generation adidas candidate, but he did not have the best season and has seen his stock take a dip. He still has the ability to get back on track and his performances with the U.S. under-20 program will ensure that he remains a player that scouts will be keeping an eye on as he is likely to be back with the BlueJays in 2013.
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