On paper, this Sunday’s contest between the Massachusetts men’s soccer team and No. 24 Indiana has all the makings of a competitive bout.
For midfielder Stuart Amick and UMass coach Sam Koch, the game is far more important.
Amick will not only compete against a team within two hours of his home town of West Lafayette, Ind., but also a few of his former teammates and a program that he has history with.
“I’m pretty excited. I know like four or five guys on the team that I actually grew up playing with on my club team before I got here,” Amick said. “I know they have some quality players and it’s going be a huge test for us. I think we’re a very capable team this year and we could easily come out with a win if we stick to the game plan. I think that they will definitely get the best out of us.”
For Amick, the match against the Hoosiers (2-2), who have won seven national championships, brings the senior midfielder back to his soccer beginnings.
“I went to soccer camp down there for three or four years, and their old head coach, Jerry Yeagley, was at a lot of my club team’s game,” Amick said. “I’ve had a connection with him over the years. Like I said, I have a lot of friends that play there and I’ve gone to a few of their games in the past before I got out here. I’ve got a lot of history with the program actually.”
Yeagley, who coached Indiana for 31 years before his son Todd Yeagley took over the program last season, watched Amick compete at the club level. Amick strongly considered getting involved with the Hoosiers.
“I talked to the coach. It wasn’t a great fit for me,” Amick said. “They picked up three or four guys on my team, because they were a better fit.”
Despite being an Indiana native and growing an attachment to the Hoosiers, Amick still boasts his support in the Maroon and White.
“I definitely had some interest in the program growing up, but Massachusetts seemed like the better choice,” Amick said. “I think it’ll be an exciting game and I’m looking forward to seeing the outcome, and hopefully we get the [win].”
“He said he never liked it at home,” Koch joked on Amick’s support of UMass (0-1-2). “Indiana is traditionally one of the top teams in college soccer. They have an incredible traditions, it’s great for them to come here.”
Koch also has an attachment to the Indiana program, one that started the four-time Atlantic 10 Coach of the Year’s coaching career.
“Jerry Yeggly had a big impact on me when I was coaching,” Koch said. “He’s one of the reasons why I am in coaching. They’re a special team and a special tradition. It’ll be a real big boost for our program for them to be here. They’re playing a game that counts on our field which you couldn’t ask for more.”
Herb Scribner can be reached at email@example.com.