Brief Conference Bio:
2013 Big Ten Tournament Champions: Indiana
Offensive Players of the Year: Tomislav Zadro, Wisconsin
Defensive Player of the Year: AJ Cochran, Wisconsin
Midfielder of the Year: Tyler Arnone, Michigan
Goalkeeper of the Year: Andrew Wolverton, Penn State
Freshman of the Year: Tommy Thompson, Indiana
Coach of the Year: Bob Warming, Penn State
Team (2013 Overall, conference record):
Goalkeeper Andrew Wolverton had a stellar season in 2013, which was one of the main reasons that the Nittany Lions won the regular season crown in the Big Ten. Wolverton is back for his senior campaign this fall, but there are some new faces in front of him after the two starting center backs from last season’s team graduated. The preseason feels like broken record for Penn State with the conference poll putting the team about midtable once again. College soccer legend Bob Warming will likely use that as a chip for his squad this season. Transfer Brian James headlines a promising list of new contributors to the squad. Sophomore standouts Mason Klerks, Mark Wadid, and Connor Maloney will be counted on to carry much of the goal scoring load.
The Badgers have plenty of holes to fill in 2014. Tomislav Zadro, the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year in 2013, graduated and AJ Cochran, the conference defensive player of the year, left early for MLS. Twelve freshmen on the roster for this fall mean some of those first-year players will make the breakthrough immediately. The Badgers return a very good goalkeeper in Casey Beyers, but freshman Adrian Remeniuk is too talented to keep on the bench for long. The coaching staff also seems especially high on freshman Mike Catalano who could pair with Drew Conner in the Badgers midfield.
Michigan State (14-6-3, 3-2-1)
It is an exciting time for Michigan State fans. The coaching staff has a squad built to contend at the national level. Tim Kreutz is in his final season and should be a prolific scorer in the Big Ten this fall. Fatai Alashe is also in his last campaign and a viable candidate for both offensive and defensive awards in the conference. Ken Krolicki and Brad Centala were the only freshmen to start the Spartans’ final preseason game. Krolicki is a talented midfielder who should do well in his debut campaign.
Michigan (8-7-3, 3-3)
The Wolverines return Big Ten Midfielder of the Year Tyler Arnone and bring in a star-studded recruiting class. The pressure is on in Ann Arbor for some hardware this season. Michigan coaches are high on senior midfielder Marcos Ugarte who should be the creative force for the attack this season. Transfer William Mellors-Blair is also expected to contribute right away. Freshman forward Ahinga Selemani could lead the Wolverines in goals scored in his debut season.
Indiana (8-12-2, 2-4)
There is still a Thompson on the roster. Now, it is Tanner Thompson’s time to take over the spotlight in Bloomington. The Hoosiers are searching for a star to emerge from a solid group of players in hopes of returning to a winning record in the Big Ten. Femi Hollinger-Janzen and Thompson are the likely candidates to lead the squad in scoring, but it will take more than those two to get this squad back into the upper-echelon of college soccer. The defense will need to be much better in 2014 after letting in 38 goals last season.
Ohio State (5-8-5, 1-3-2)
The Buckeyes shrugged through a disappointing 2013 with only five points from league play. The rebuild is clearly on and the incoming classes are building on top of each other as Ohio State aims to gear up the program for the future. Sophomore forward Danny Jensen is a prospect to watch for the future. Freshman Hunter Robertson had a good preseason and could be in line for quality minutes early.
Northwestern (10-8-3, 1-4-1)
Northwestern shockingly struggled in conference play last season with only four points from six games and finished at the bottom of the conference. The Wildcats do not want to get comfortable in that role. Coach Tim Lenahan is counting on seniors Tyler Miller (goalkeeper) and Nikko Boxall (center back) to make sure that is not a repeat performance. Forwards Joey Calistri and Elochukwu Ozumba should headline an exciting attack for the Cats.
Maryland (17-4-5, 7-1-3)*
The Terps are in the Big Ten. It’s weird, but we need to get over it. Head coach Sasho Cirovski and his staff have to replace all-everything forward Patrick Mullins who is now part of the New England Revolution. Transfer Mael Corboz is a nice addition to the squad and should do well under Cirovski.
If freshman Jason Wright becomes the player that Rutgers recruited him to be, the Scarlett Knights could be a real threat in this conference. The Jamaican freshman is a speedster and a poacher, which is a seriously dangerous combo in college soccer. If Wright develops a good partnership with Juan Pablo Correa, this could be an attack to watch this fall.
*Denotes conference newcomers