Could Andy Morrison be the best soccer player in DePauw University’s history? He very well might be, but this year will determine if he deserves that title.
I know the team lost last weekend, and I know that there won’t be talks of an undefeated season like there were last year, but none of that matters.
Neither does the fact that his two goals in Saturday’s 3-2 loss to Ohio Northern University places the senior within 10 goals of J.R. Foster’s all-time record of 48.
What matters is his demeanor on the field and the way he can sometimes even will the Tigers to victory.
If Morrison does go on to get that record, that’s great, but if not, he will still go down as one of the greatest players in the 50-plus years of men’s soccer at DePauw.
I had the chance to spend plenty of time around Morrison and the Tigers during their remarkable 10-0 start to last season, and it’s easy to see that he is the lynchpin that kept the team together throughout that streak and beyond.
Half of his 14 goals last season were game winners, and seven of those happened during that winning streak. However, I think Morrison’s most telling statistic from last year is that he led the team in assists, setting up teammates for goals on seven different occasions.
Although last year was my first exposure to Morrison, I discovered from his previous two years’ stats that he’s been the model of consistency.
In his first year with the Tigers, Morrison tallied 10 goals and led the team with seven assists. He also picked up the North Coast Athletic Conference’s (NACA) Newcomer of the Year award.
Morrison’s sophomore season was more of the same as he led the team with 12 goals and was an All-NCAC First Team selection.
Each of these first two seasons, the Tigers won the NCAC and received the automatic bid to the Nation Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) tournament. After a first round exit in 2011, the Tigers suffered an overtime loss in the second round of 2012’s tournament.
Although that’s fantastic, but I want to see the results that Morrison can put up after a down year in 2013 in order to be entirely convinced.
After the 10-0 start, DePauw won only four of their final nine games. These included a pair of losses to rival powerhouse, Ohio Wesleyan University. The Tigers then failed to make it out of the first round of the NCAC tournament and missed out on an at-large bid to the NCAA competition.
So as Morrison embarks on his fourth and final season with the Tigers, we’ll see what he’s really made of. We’ve seen that he’s capable of putting up big numbers and succeeding when the games matter the most, but we haven’t seen how he’s responded after being knocked down.
And now he has the team in place - a rock-solid goalkeeper in senior Jake Pezzuto, who allowed less than a goal per game last year, and sophomore Julian Gonzalez, who matched Morrison’s 14 goals last year - that can help pick up some of the slack for him on offense.
It’s all there for you, Andy, and I personally can’t wait to see what you do with it.