first_imgWhile the offensive struggles of the Wisconsin men’s soccer team continue to torment the squad’s Big Ten title hopes this season, there have been no complaints about the performances between the posts made by junior goalkeeper Jake Settle.”He’s been great,” head coach Jeff Rohrman said of Settle’s play thus far. “You can ask any of our guys, and they’ll say that Jake — along with Aaron [Hohlbein] and Hamid [Afsari] — has been one of the rocks back there. He has had a great season so far, has played extremely well and has come up with some big saves when we’ve needed them.”Although Settle, at 6-foot-1 and weighing only 170-pounds, is certainly smaller than the typical goalkeeper, the talent from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, has been stopping shots since he first started playing soccer at the age of six.”I’ve pretty much played my whole life in goal,” Settle said. “When I was younger, I asked ‘Hey coach, what position doesn’t run quite as much?’ And he said goalie, so I was like ‘alright, that’s me.'”While Settle may have displayed his contempt for running as a youth, today he is one of the most athletic keepers in the Big Ten. Where he lacks in physical stature, he makes up for with his impressive agility, cat-like reflexes and speed resembling that of a mongoose.”In terms of quickness and athleticism, he’s right there with any keeper in the Big Ten,” Rohrman said. “He doesn’t possess some of the size and physical presence that some of the others do, but there is a comfort level in knowing that Jake is quick enough and athletic enough to make big time saves and reaction saves that maybe some other guys can’t. He’s also as good as many of our field players with his feet, so there’s a confidence in using him as an ‘out’ when we get in trouble in the back.”When graduated goalkeeper Eric Hanson was injured in 2003, a young Settle, just a freshman, put on his gloves and recorded eight saves over a period of four games. His sophomore year, however, Settle saw no action as Hanson played every single minute of the 2004 season. Though always a team player, Settle admits it was rough watching every match from the sidelines.”It was pretty tough, it’s always tough sitting behind somebody on the bench,” Settle said. “It was frustrating, you know, not getting any playing time.”When the 2005 season began, however, it was Settle who filled the No. 1 keeper spot, and so far his teammates couldn’t be happier with his performance.”Jake’s played great this season,” fellow junior and captain Aaron Hohlbein said. “He’s made a ton of great saves — everything from crosses to breakaways, he’s just been solid in every aspect of his game.”So far this season, Settle has allowed an average of 1.27 goals-per-game, has made 46 saves, and has tallied one shutout. Settle also stopped a penalty kick against New Mexico’s Jeff Rowland, one of the most talented players in the country.While most keepers find defending penalty kicks to be the most nerve-wracking aspect of the game, Settle found his stop rather amusing.”That was fun actually,” Settle said of his save. “The kid — Rowland — was really, really good and he had already scored two goals earlier, so it felt pretty good to stop him. When he stepped up, I faked to my left and then went back to my right, and after he hit it, I heard him go ‘oh sh*t’ because he knew he had hit it really bad … it was just a bad penalty kick on his part.”While Settle may prefer a modest approach when reflecting on his past achievements, the keeper is also known as quite a talkative character on and off the field.”[Jake’s] a bubbly guy,” Hohlbein said. “He loves talking — never keeps his mouth shut — but he’s a good guy to be around.”last_img read more