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Indiana men's soccer's Justin Rennicks looking to make his mark on this year's College Cup

For most of last season, all forward Justin Rennicks could do was sit and watch.

He did just that from the beginning of the season until mid-October, when he made his debut. Because he was a freshman, it was almost a myth of the type of players he was going to be for the Hoosiers. Rennicks had yet to play for IU.

But as the season progressed, the Hoosiers kept winning. They won so much that they advanced to the College Cup. At that point, Rennicks had played a handful of matches. Then when the Hoosiers arrived in Philadelphia, Indiana was happy to use its then-freshman striker, at least partly since he wasn’t at full fitness.

“I was hurt until the Big Ten Tournament,” Rennicks said. “Got some minutes against Ohio State and some against Michigan State on the way to Philadelphia, but I mean, it’s crazy. I was told I played pretty well in the tournament last year, for not playing so much all year.”

Rennicks played about half of the national semifinal against North Carolina and got some time against Stanford in the title match too. He said he was told he played well, and that was the case. The Hamilton, Massachusetts native gave Indiana a much-needed spark in the attack, which only built up the hype coming into 2018.

“We knew we would need him,” IU coach Todd Yeagley said after the North Carolina match last season. “We said you’ve got to be ready and he didn’t shy from the moment. He played arguably his best minutes of the year and was super productive for us.”

But that was last year when Rennicks wasn’t at full fitness. Throughout the entirety of last season, Rennicks played in nine matches tallying one assist and only one shot, which came in the North Carolina match.

Rennicks said last season was hard mentally for him. He wanted to be out there on the field with his team, but was unable to do so.

When you fast forward to 2018, you can see why he was so highly regarded. Coming into this year’s College Cup, he has six goals, good for second most on the team. He’s the unquestioned starter at striker and back to where he was physically before his injury took away most of his freshman season.

“He was in good form and gave us a different element last year, and just couldn’t go any farther,” Yeagley said. “Having him fit – I think the time with the national team was great for him. A lot of minutes, so he’s fit and ready to help.”

Part of the reason Rennicks is in such good form is because of his time with the Under-20 United States Youth National team at the CONCACAF Championship through the first three weeks of November. He played a fairly sizable role in the US bringing home the CONCACAF title and qualifying for the Under-20 World Cup, which begins in May.

The Indiana forward started a handful of games, including the title match vs. Mexico, and found the back of the net a number of times, as well.

“That got me really sharp with everything,” Rennicks said. “Finishing, touches, all that. Feeling really good for the College Cup.”

With the injury over a year behind him, Rennicks is eager to play a big part at the College Cup this time around. There won’t be a restriction on his minutes. He may have given the Hoosiers a boost off the bench last year, but this time around in Santa Barbara, California, there’s a good chance he’ll be out there from the opening kick.

“If I can do it back then when I have an injury, I can do it now,” Rennicks said. “Hopefully I can do more than that.”

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