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If you go
What: Shindigz National Soccer Festival
When: Thursday-Sunday
Where: Hefner Fields
Teams: Indiana, North Carolina, Michigan State, Goshen, Indiana Tech, Indianapolis, Trine, Anderson, Xavier, Loyola, IPFW, Valparaiso, Marquette
Admission: $5 at Walgreens, 800 Degrees, Connelly’s Do it Best; $7 at gate

Singstock leads Warriors in quest to repeat success

Tori Singstock dropped a lot of jaws last fall when she scored 23 goals and 50 points in her first season as a collegiate soccer player. Her coach’s jaw just wasn’t one of them.

Turns out Jim Lipocky had caught her act years before, when Singstock was more halftime show than showstopper.

“Her older sister Rikki just graduated from here,” Indiana Tech’s women’s soccer coach said Monday at the school’s fall sports media day. “And Tori sort of grew up with us. She would come to our games, and at halftime she would run on the field, because she’s a soccer player, and she’d start taking shots on goal with her twin brother.”

And everyone took notice.

“Yeah, we would be having a halftime talk, and the girls would be looking over and going ‘Wow, she can really hit the ball.’ So, yeah, I always knew about Tori. When we got her to commit, I knew what I was getting.”

What he was getting was a gifted striker who was the centerpiece of a gifted freshman class that, with ample guidance from the upperclassmen, took the Warriors on a 16-4-1 ride that included 12 wins in their last 14 games. Returning from that team are Singstock, the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Year; fellow all-conference first-teamers Jordan Roell and Natalie Zimmerman; and 17-goal scorer Megan Perrey, a sophomore like Singstock.

“I tell you what, I tip my hat to the upperclassmen,” says Lipocky, whose team plays Goshen in the Shindigz National Soccer Festival this weekend.

“Because they brought (the freshmen) in, and they made ’em feel like part of the team from the very get-go. That’s the most important thing. We were not a perfect team by any means, but they played hard and they played for each other. They played together.”

And it started right out of the gate with a win over crosstown rival Saint Francis in which Singstock immediately put her imprint on things with a hat trick. “That was a good start,” Lipocky says. “Once we got over that hurdle, it just seemed like all this confidence came in and … the season got stronger as it went on.”

As did Singstock.

“I was a little surprised,” she says. “I wasn’t expecting to get that many goals. But as the season went on, I just started pushing myself to get better and keep the team winning.”

That was pretty much the formula on the men’s side, too. David Bokhart’s team started 4-0, then lost consecutive matches to Trinity Christian, Olivet Nazarene and Grace, then went 6-3-3 in its last 12 games to finish 11-6-3.

The Warriors play a scrimmage against Indianapolis this weekend during the Shindigz National Festival, and the challenge will be to meld yet another distinctively international collection of players into a cohesive unit. The Tech roster includes players from England, Ireland, Bolivia, Canada, the United Arab Emirates and Nigeria as well as the U.S.

“I think getting everybody on the same page does take time, and to be honest it could take well into regular season, because we do have different cultures that play the game a certain way,” says Bokhart, who’d like to find a few more offensive threats this year. “We have guys that individually see the game differently as well. So they’re diverse not only based on where they come from but how they play.

“So that does take some time to get everyone on board. That’ll be our big focus this week is taking time to get everyone on the same page as much as possible and trying to recognize what the strengths of each style are.”

And once that happens, everyone seems to agree it’s onward and upward.

“I feel like we’ve got a strong amount of players coming back this year,” says returning goalkeeper Reece Richardson, a 2012 all-conference honorable mention from Halifax, England.

“It’s gonna be kind of a difficult start to the year learning how to play with each other, but then we’ll finish strong toward the end again.”

bensmith@jg.net

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