*With just over a week remaining before Indiana kicks off its 2018 season at Wake Forest and North Carolina, The Hoosier Network will be releasing its position previews on a semi-weekly basis until the season begins.*
When Indiana needed a goal scorer in 2017, there was a good chance freshman forward Mason Toye would be called upon. Toye led the team with 10 of IU’s 49 goals scored.
But with Toye’s departure after his freshman season, the Hoosiers will need a new face to step up at the front of their attack. Luckily for IU, there are plenty of players worthy and eager to fill in.
On a team with such great experience all over the field, the forward spot has no one older than a sophomore. Yet, that does not mean this group hasn’t already made a big impact during their short stints in Bloomington.
Of the 49 goals scored by the Hoosiers in 2017, they will return 34 (69 percent) of those goals return in 2018.
There will be two names you will hear a lot of in 2018 at the forward position: Griffin Dorsey and Justin Rennicks.
Both sophomores, Dorsey and Rennicks figure to spearhead the attack from the forward position. The duo both played for the U20 US Men’s National team during the offseason and is poised for a big 2018 season.
Dorsey comes off a 2017 in which he burst onto the scene. From the opening exhibition match as a freshman, you could see the type of playmaker he can be from the wing. The winger runs right at defenders and causes havoc on whichever flank IU coach Todd Yeagley wants him on.
— Josh Eastern (@JoshEastern) October 18, 2017
The Evergreen, Colorado native will no doubt be an impact player once again coming off a three goal and six assist freshman season.
Dorsey, however, is more of a winger. There are a few other names who could fill in up top as striker. One of those names is Rennicks while the other is Thomas Warr.
But for Rennicks, 2017 was a season of recovery. He missed virtually the entire regular season because of a foot injury and played in just nine matches. But in those nine matches, there were glimpses of what type of player he can be for IU. He can play as a true number nine or right underneath the striker as a number 10.
From last week, but Indiana’s Justin Rennicks had the game winning assist off the bench in the U20 team’s 1-0 win in the second match vs. France. Started in the first match too. #iums #USYNT https://t.co/XfbrNOps8q
— Josh Eastern (@JoshEastern) March 29, 2018
The championship match may have arguably been his best. He may have been IU’s best attacker. Rennicks came to IU as a highly touted recruit and 2018 is a chance for Rennicks to show the type of quality he has as he should see the field on a much more regular basis.
Thomas Warr, also entering his sophomore season, has the attributes to be a true number nine for IU. Warr played in 17 games while scoring two goals and tallying three assists. The Zionsville, Indiana native fell out of favor as the season went along, but with the forward spot being as open as it is, Warr’s name could be called on early and often in 2018.
The 2018 roster features five listed forwards. The trio of Dorsey, Rennicks and Warr will be the names people remember from a season ago. But redshirt sophomore Ian Black and freshman Ryan Wittenbrink are two names to get to know.
In what was a bit more of a crowded attacking third of the pitch, Black was took his true sophomore season to redshirt. The Dublin, Ohio native did however make three appearances as a true freshman in 2016. He was a standout in the high school ranks as he was a NSCAA All-American while scoring 27 goals during his senior year.
Freshman Ryan Wittenbrink could be the most impact freshman, maybe besides defender Jack Maher. Wittenbrink had a decorated high school career. He earned MVP of the 2017 High School All-America match after scoring twice and was named Top Drawer Soccer’s high school player of the year. Wittenbrink stands at 6-1 and could be a force in the air.
As the striker position usually goes, it will be all about finding the hot hand. Wittenbrink and Black could be nice surprises for IU coach Todd Yeagley to compliment the sophomore trio.