De Leon Off to Fast Start in Exhibition Opener
Aug. 20, 2010
BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. - DePaul freshman Ray De Leon wanted to make an immediate impact on the men's soccer program.
Well, how about scoring the first goal of the season---albeit in an exhibition match---in the Blue Demons 1-1 tie with Missouri S&T Friday at the Toyota Park training field.
De Leon fielded a pinpoint pass from Andre Gutierrez in the second half and lofted a shot into the upper right of the Miners' goal.
"It was really a great feeling," said De Leon, who ripped a shot in the first half from just beyond the penalty box that ricocheted off the post. "Andre gave me a great pass. The defender was behind me, but I got the first touch and got it up in the air.
"I came in looking to make an impact right away."
De Leon headed up a talented freshmen class as Jared Blincow and Art Garza also started against Division II Missouri S&T. Classmates Brian Lunar, Cale Hartle, Zach Forbes, Mauricio Velasco, Thiago Ganancio and goalkeeper Joseph Hart also saw action.
"We saw the quality of Ray De Leon today, and he has the potential to really make a difference once he's reached game fitness," said DePaul coach Craig Blazer. "As a team, we have to find the best way to use his talents."
Blazer said he was pleased by the defensive work of his back line that limited the Miners to one shot in the first half. Scott Freundlich, John Jandl, Toth and the combination of Gutierrez and Lunar were the foursome that protected goalkeepers Joe Ferrari and Hart.
"Lunar played well, and when he is back there, we can move Andre up to the midfield," Blazer said. "Hartle, Blincow and Garza also did well.
"You could see Hartle's speed out there. Once he learns the nuances of the game, he's going to be a nice asset.
"Playing freshmen is going to be the biggest challenge we have. Based on this match, I'd say they are responding well."
Missouri S&T tied the match in the 60th minute on a goal by Spencer Brinkmeyer off a corner kick from Sam Shaffer.
"Re-sets are a huge part of the game," Blazer said. "We will be addressing that in practices next week.
"But actually, our defense didn't give anything away today."
De Leon is glad he gave DePaul a shot.
"Throughout the recruiting process, DePaul was one of my top schools," De Leon said. "Creighton, Oral Roberts and SMU (Southern Methodist University) were also recruiting me.
"I knew DePaul was building a good program, and I wanted to come here to continue that. It seemed like home to me on my visit. The players are a good group of guys and I knew I could fit in with them."
DePaul has an exhibition match next Fridayat Illinois-Chicago.