Tyler Cruikshank Times-Republican photo
Loyola University Chicago’s
Men’s Soccer team landed a top midfielder from Iowa with the verbal commitment of Tyler “Tank” Cruikshank from Marshalltown High School.
Tyler Cruikshank can see his future, both on the horizon and in the Horizon.
The Marshalltown High School senior-to-be recently made a verbal commitment to play Division I men’s soccer at Loyola University Chicago, joining the up-and-coming Ramblers in their quest to return to the top of the Horizon League.
Cruikshank, a first-team all-CIML Iowa Conference and second-team Class 3A all-stater, has been a three-year mainstay at midfielder for the MHS Bobcats. His future journey 300 miles east to Chicago, however, will be one of the shorter trips in the left-footer’s already-worldly soccer career.
“I’ve traveled to Orlando and California and Italy, Austria and Brazil – I’ve gone all over,” said Cruikshank. “I’ve been doing soccer forever, and probably since the eighth grade I’ve wanted to play Division I soccer, so really it’s been in my sights for a long time.”
Cruikshank, nicknamed ‘Tank’ by his friends and teammates, totaled seven goals and 16 assists in his junior season, in which Marshalltown went 10-8 overall and 2-3 in the CIML Iowa. His steady play and leadership abilities helped him move up from second-team all-conference honors as a sophomore and his honorable mention freshman campaign.
“It helps having to step up and be a leader, being probably one of the most experienced players with the most club experience on the high school team,” said Cruikshank, who plays left back defender on his club and Olympic Development Program (ODP) teams. “You’ve got to practice at the highest tempo that we can and just get better day-in and day-out. The pressure might not be there but you’ve got to push yourself.”
Cruikshank is the second-highest ranked Iowan soccer player in the class of 2012 by TopDrawerSoccer.com in the website’s Heartland Region rankings. Cedar Rapids Kennedy’s Gabe Christianson is listed atop the regional top 20, and Cruikshank is fourth.
He has played club soccer since 2006 with teams based in Cedar Rapids, Iowa City, West Des Moines and most recently Johnston/Urbandale. His state ODP team has played in Dallas and Brazil, and the USA Region II National team has competed in Argentina.
The United States has been Cruikshank’s playground, and his future college options spanned the eastern half of the country.
“We looked at Clemson, Georgetown and Michigan State, and then we had Evansville, Missouri State and Drake,” he said. “I guess Missouri State and Loyola were my last two, but there’s been a ton. Just visiting the other schools that I did and narrowing down my options, nothing really felt like Loyola did. Nothing had that homely feel and the coaches, it’s a very prestigious school and it just really felt right.
“I definitely wanted to find a team that I was comfortable with, and the coach and the team and the facilities I was really happy with. I know soccer’s probably not going to take me for the rest of my life, so I was looking for a school I could get a good major in.”
Loyola is a Jesuit Catholic school in northern Chicago, less than 5 miles south of Northwestern University in the neighboring suburb of Evanston and along the shores of Lake Michigan.
The Ramblers went 5-11-2 overall last fall but finished 4-3-1 in the Horizon League, good for fourth out of nine teams. A former Loyola graduate, Eric Gehrig, recently made his first career start with the Columbus Crew of Major League Soccer.
Head coach Brendan Eitz, a Loyola alum, begins his seventh season with the Ramblers this fall.
“They’re just building up new rec(reation) centers and getting better and better each year and that’s definitely a plus,” Cruikshank said. “It’s right on Lake Michigan, it’s a beautiful campus and I definitely feel like they’re getting going in the right direction so I can be a part of it.”