The University of Indianapolis men’s and women’s soccer teams had historic seasons in 2019. The women’s soccer team, led by Head Coach Holly Cox, had a short run in the GLVC tournament but made it to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2009, according to UIndy Athletics. The men’s soccer team, led by Head Coach John Higgins, had a good season that ended at the NCAA finals, according to UIndy Athletics. The current season is expected to begin in the spring, according to UIndy Athletics. Both teams kick off their seasons at home versus the McKendree University Bearcats on Feb. 26.
The men’s soccer team scored 55 goals last season and made it to the Final Four of the NCAA tournament. They finished the season with a record of 16-6-1 in regular play and then 10-4-1 in conference, according to UIndy Athletics.
“I thought I had better teams in my time at UIndy that hadn’t gone as far,” Higgins said. “But what we ended up doing is we ended up really kind of maximizing the strengths that we had within the team and we had the best leadership I’ve ever seen out of any of the teams I’ve ever coached in my time at UIndy.”
According to Higgins, the most impactful player last season was senior forward Javier Steinwasher, who led the team in assists with 19, and goals with 14, according to UIndy Athletics. Unfortunately, Steinwasher was injured midseason, putting the team at a great disadvantage until his return to the field, according to Higgins. He said Steinwasher was a leader both on and off the field.
“We almost kind of went as a program how he went. I think he post-injury came back and as he got better and healthier, we got better as a group,” Higgins said. “I also feel like he’s one of the best leaders that we’ve ever had in my time here. He was a big reason for why we were so successful. So the fact that we’ve lost him really hurts.”
Senior midfielder Ben Rohder was another key player. Starting 22 games and scoring six goals last season, Rohder was a fantastic player that the team looked up to and was great to have in the locker room, according to Higgins. He said Steinwasher and Rohder’s graduations have been significant losses for the team this season.
With the loss of eight seniors to graduation from last season’s team, Higgins said there has also been a loss in leadership. The players left on the team, as well as the newcomers, will have to step up and fill these open leadership roles in order to have a repeat of the 2019 season, he said.
“In terms of the program this year, I don’t think we have that kind of standout special performer. I think we’ve got a really consistent group,” Higgins said. “I don’t think there’s a really long bottom end at all of the group that we’ve got right now. Something we’re going to need [is] special performances, but it’s still to be determined in terms of who this individual is going to be coming into the season.”
The women’s soccer team scored a total of 33 goals throughout last season, making it through two rounds of the NCAA tournament, but lost in the third round against Grand Valley State University, making it to the Sweet 16. The Hounds finished the season with 15-5-1 record overall and a 11-3-1 record within conference play.
Senior midfielder Taylor Peck was a key player last season, according to Cox. She earned the award of GLVC Offensive Player of the Year, scoring 9 goals last season, the highest on the team. According to Cox, Peck scored unbelievable goals for the team as well as working hard off-ball in her offensive duties. She will continue on the team this season as a senior.
Freshman, now sophomore, Sophia Saucerman was an important team member as well. Saucerman played goalkeeper and earned the award of GLVC Freshman of the Year. Saucerman was a formidable player in the goal and made incredible saves that kept the women’s team in the tournaments for as long as they were, Cox said.
The women’s team has lost six seniors this season, and while it will be difficult to replace the senior class, according to Cox, players will step into those leadership roles. She said she wants to make sure the players this season continue to be competitive despite the delayed season.
“There were some games where we didn’t perform to the level that I know we can perform to,” Cox said. “Even in training sessions, you know, striving for consistency in training sessions, you’re then going to transfer that over on to the game field. So to me, that’s something we’ve really worked on this past spring and this fall season. We want consistency. We want it. We want quality.”