De Leon Delivers in the Nick of Time
Aug. 20, 2011
KALAMAZOO, Mich. - With 15 seconds left and DePaul trailing by a goal, Antonio Aguilar lined up his direct free kick.
The talented junior deposited it around the Western Michigan wall just outside the goalkeeper box where teammate Ray De Leon redirected it while sliding on the ground with 12 seconds left to give the Blue Demons an uplifting 3-3 tie with Western Michigan in Saturday's exhibition match.
De Leon got up, ran to the corner of the WMU Soccer Complex and slid across the wet grass.
"Everybody was going crazy and I got dog-pounded by the team," De Leon said. "It was such an emotional moment. Even though the clock was winding down, we are DePaul and we wanted to get the result."
De Leon's goal in the 90th minute left materialized when freshman David Selvaggi was fouled after breaking free deep in the final third.
"Our coaching staff was really encouraged by the fight in our guys and the way they were able to come back after being down 3-2 late in the game," said DePaul coach Craig Blazer. "Their resilience is outstanding.
"With our young team, Ray is really playing with a lot of maturity. He is developing an understanding of how to make an impact in a game and is providing some outstanding leadership."
Western Michigan, which finished the 2010 season ranked 10th in the Great Lakes Region and was second in the Mid-American Conference behind NCAA champion Akron, scored in the 15th minute on a goal by Oliver Mayer to seize a 1-0 lead.
De Leon scored his first goal of the game in the 31st minute when he bent a corner kick into the upper right corner of the Bronco net.
"That was a goal to remember--- the first time I've ever done anything like that," De Leon said. "We do work hard on our set pieces in practice."
The Blue Demons took a 2-1 lead into halftime after Aguilar scored on an assist from freshmen Thiago Ganancio in the 39th minute.
Aguilar made his run down the left side of the box and Ganancio slipped it through at the 18. Despite being side-by-side with a Bronco defender, Aguilar maintained his composure and slotted it into the right side of the net.
Western Michigan, with three all-conference players among their 16 returnees, scored in the 82nd minute on a goal by Darren Jones to draw even at 2-2.
The Broncos went ahead 3-2 in the 86th minute when Yilson Asani scored on a header after a restart.
Western Michigan finished with 13 shots, eight on goal while DePaul took seven shots with six on goal. De Leon and Aguilar each had three shots with two on goal.
"We played almost all sophomores and freshmen today, and you're going to experience some growing pains," Blazer said. "There are some things we have to clean up tactically in training this week.
"Western Michigan is a good attacking team and they threw a lot at us in the second half. You could see how they scored 33 goals last season."
De Leon has scored three times in DePaul's two exhibition matches.
"I hope I can carry this over into the regular season," De Leon said. "These exhibition games are the fuel that will keep us going when the real season begins next Saturday.
"These games tell us a lot about how well we're going to play and who our go-to players are going to be."
DePaul opens the regular season Aug. 27 against Oakland at Wish Field at Cacciatore Stadium.