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Indiana Soccer 2018 Preview: Goalkeepers

*With just a few weeks 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.*

Trey Muse cemented his name in the Indiana Athletics record books and earned multiple awards throughout the 2017 season. He holds the fourth-best record in the NCAA shutout-streak list with over 966 minutes in total.

IU’s goalkeeping group was already deep at the end of the 2017 season, and coach Todd Yeagley added another prospect to the fold in three-star recruit Bryant Pratt.

That makes four goalkeepers on the current roster vying for Muse’s spot to start the season between the sticks for the Hoosiers.

Trey Muse

It’s hard to find a player at any position in the nation who had a better season than Trey Muse did last year. Coming in as a freshman, Muse wasn’t a lock to grab the starting position in goal.

In fact, Muse didn’t play at all in any of IU’s 2017 preseason matches.

Until the Starting XI of the first game of the 2017 season was announced, no one knew who would start in goal. Sean Caulfield and Jacob Gruber were the two players who saw playing time in exhibition matches, but Muse was the one who started in goal for all 25 of the Hoosiers’ matches.

Fast forward five months later with multiple records and awards, and it’s hard to find a better goalkeeper in the country than Muse. He had 18 clean sheets in 2017 and was named to the Top Drawer Soccer First-Team Freshman Best XI and Big Ten All-Freshman Team.

In 25 games, Muse only gave up six goals in total, averaging 0.26 goals allowed per game. That, along with a 90.3 save percentage, are just two of the categories he led the NCAA in last season.

Maturity was a big part of Muse’s 2017 season as well. Even as a freshman, Muse was a composed and confident keeper who gelled well with the rest of his back line. Yeagley mentioned multiple times throughout the season how impressive Muse’s maturity was as a freshman, which was one of the reasons why he won the starting spot at the beginning of the campaign.

“We had confidence in Trey,” Yeagley said in mid-October last season. “He’s really mature for a freshman. He has size, shot stopping ability, good feet — a lot of qualities that you look for in a keeper. You just weren’t sure how quickly he could acclimate.”

Part of the reason why his transition was so smooth last year was in part due to his experience at the international and professional level. Before Muse stepped on to the Indiana campus, he already had U-18 Men’s National Team experience and also played on Sounders 2, the Seattle Sounders’ United Soccer League team.

It would take something drastic for Muse to lose his starting spot because of how good he was for the Hoosiers last season — the statistics don’t lie.

Sean Caulfield

Caulfield’s 2017 season was an unexpected one. After seeing most of the minutes between the sticks all preseason, it looked like the starting job was the redshirt sophomore’s to lose. Muse was named the starter for the first game of the regular season, and the rest is history.

Caulfield appeared in just one game last season, and it came in an important time — in a penalty shootout in the Big Ten Championship game against Wisconsin. Yeagley chose to run with Caulfield as his keeper in net, but the Hoosiers fell to Wisconsin, 4-2.

When IU went to penalties less than a month later in the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament, Yeagley decided to go with Muse. The Hoosiers advanced to the College Cup after defeating Michigan State in front of the home crowd, 3-2.

Caulfield’s 2018 season will rely on whatever happens to Muse. He will most likely be the backup keeper and serve as Muse’s replacement if the latter goes down with injury.

Jacob Gruber

A three-star recruit coming out of high school, Gruber chose to redshirt his freshman year last season. The only time Gruber saw on the pitch was during preseason, where he played all 90 minutes for the Hoosiers in a 3-1 win over Xavier.

His 2018 will depend on what happens to Muse and Caulfield. The Fishers, Indiana, native will be the next man up if both of them are unavailable or if he separates himself from the rest of the competition in training.

Bryant Pratt

Pratt was brought in this past spring as one of IU’s 2018 recruits and the lone goalkeeper of the bunch. He joins an already deep group at the position, but it seems like he’s a long-term decision for Yeagley and his staff. A three-star recruit coming out of high school, Pratt was ranked the No. 19 players in the Great Lakes region according to Top Drawer Soccer.

Nevertheless, Pratt has quick reflexes and quick hands, and he positions himself well against opposing attackers. He has a good soccer IQ, and comes off his line in order to win balls that are crossed into the box without creating any drama. He has an athletic diving style, which gives him the ability to make harder saves that require him to stretch out.

"He was the Golden Glove Best Goalkeeper in the national championship this past summer," Yeagley said via Twitter following the announcement of IU’s 2018 signings. "We're really excited for Bryant to join a really strong goalkeeping core. We see a bright future ahead for Bryant."

2018 could see Pratt redshirt as Gruber did last season, and the Ohioan could feature for the team in future seasons to come.

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