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.