FORT WAYNE – In all likelihood, Michigan State wont have much of a comprehensive scouting report on IPFW when the two teams square off in Friday nights Shindigz National Soccer Festival exhibition at Hefner Fields. Its not that the Spartans will be taking the Mastodons lightly; its just that there isnt much to go on as far as which player to concentrate on.
In the process of posting an 8-10-2 record last season and reaching the Summit League tournament for the first time in program history, IPFW scored 35 goals, which led the conference. But 25 of those goals are gone, which is why IPFW coach Mike Harper – if not Michigan State, for one night – isnt quite sure what he has.
Max Touloute, the Summit League Offensive Player of the Year in 2011 who scored 13 times, moved on to the Wichita Wings of the Major Indoor Soccer League.
Colin Helmrich, the teams No. 2 scorer with eight goals, also graduated. And Jason Mills, who had four goals, isnt eligible this season because of academic issues.
Its hard to find that game-changer, and thats what Max was, Harper said. We dont have that Max. We have other guys who can do different things, so well have to have a sort of different team formations and style of play. Its hard to find the Maxes of the world. We need to see what we have.
What the Mastodons have is a young team. Defender Brent Helton and midfielder Mitch Falkenstern are two of the teams three seniors, and both will be four-year starters. But because of the nature of their positions, neither will be asked to attack the net.
I think its going to have to make everyone else step up, Helton said of the team losing its top three scorers. Were not going to be able to rely on one or two guys. I know weve got some really good incoming guys who should be able to contribute right away.
Everybodys going to have to step their game up and I dont think thats going to be a problem.
His three goals last season make sophomore Myles Stanley the top returning scorer. There is also midfielder Kyle Ackerman to contend with.
Kyle Ackerman is probably going to be our guy up top, Harper said. We usually play with one target guy, and he was probably second in line last year, and he came in and did a great job for us. He started a lot of games, and hell be our go-to guy up top; good speed; very strong kid. Well have some younger kids who will play underneath him that will do a lot of running off him.
Then there is the influx of freshmen – a group Harper said will get its chance, beginning Friday night.
Were going to play a lot of guys, Harper said. We have one week. Were not going to turn these guys into World Cup players in one week. Were going to see what we have, give some kids some experience out there and some exposure. From that, then we can build going into the season.
I think we started five freshmen lat year. I have no problems playing freshmen. Theyre going to make mistakes, but come their sophomore, junior, senior years, theyll have a lot of experience.