Aguilar Has a Blast in DePaul's Season Opener
Aug. 27, 2011
Blue Tube - Oakland Highlights
CHICAGO - There was something pretty special about Antonio Aguilar in Saturday's season opener.
"His performance today was as good as we've ever seen at Wish Field," said DePaul coach Craig Blazer after Aguilar's two goals and one assist lifted the Blue Demons to a 3-1 victory over 2010 NCAA tournament qualifier Oakland.
"Tony was recognized on the Preseason All-BIG EAST Conference Team, and he showed why this afternoon."
Aguilar got the 2011 season off to a rousing start when he blasted a shot from 35 yards out over the head of Oakland goalkeeper Mitch Hildebrandt and into the upper right corner of the Golden Grizzlies' net in the 25th minute.
"I was moving to my left and I just shot it," Aguilar said. "I was waiting, like, is it going to go in? Then, it went in and I just ran to the sideline with my teammates."
Oakland came back to even the score at 1-1 on a Jeff Cheslick header off a free kick by Jonathan Evans in the 43rd minute, two minutes before halftime.
Aguilar teamed up with freshman Thiago Ganancio to put DePaul ahead for good. His free kick in the 64th minute soared into a group of Blue Demon players and Ganancio headed in his first collegiate goal.
Then came the clincher.
In the 70th minute, Aguilar drilled another long shot from 35 yards away that landed in the upper left of the Oakland net.
"On the second goal, Dougie (freshman Jake Douglas) played me quick off a throw-in," Aguilar said. "I saw the goalie was a little too far out, so I decided to shoot to the far post.
"Luckily, it went in."
The Blue Demons won their season opener for the first time since 2007.
"It means a lot," Aguilar said. "We're coming into the season with a young team of 13 freshmen and 10 sophomores, and all of them are stepping up big.
"With the depth we have on this team, we keep putting people in and came out with a win today. Hopefully this transfers over to our next game (Illinois-Chicago) and the rest of the season."
It's only one game, but so far, the new high-press, offensive-minded DePaul attack is working just as Blazer and assistant coaches Hobie Hare and Craig Reynolds had intended.
"Our players responded to the challenge of a very good team by scoring three quality goals," Blazer said. "Our staff is very encouraged by how these young guys did so well."
The Blue Demons were the more aggressive team in the first 45 minutes, outshooting Oakland 8-1. This from a young team comprised mainly of freshmen and sophomores.
"All of the sophomores and freshmen want to come out and do their best so they can be part of the team," Aguilar said. "I know a lot of these guys could have a chance to make the All-BIG EAST Rookie Team, All-BIG EAST First or Second Team---anything they want so long as they put their hearts into it."
DePaul returns to action on Thursday with a 5 p.m. showdown against city rival UIC at Toyota Park.
NOTES: DePaul snapped a three-game losing streak in season openers... before Saturday, the last successful debut came in 2007 when the Blue Demons defeated Jacksonville 2-0 at Wish Field... the Blue Demons outshot Oakland 13-8 and had five shots on goal to three for the Golden Grizzlies... freshman David Selvaggi played well in his NCAA debut and led DePaul with five shots... Aguilar and Ganancio each took three shots while Matt Leinauer and John Jandl had one shot apiece... Aguilar had three shots on goal and Ganancio two... Ganancio recorded his first collegiate goal and points with his score in the second half... Oakland had seven corner kicks to zero for DePaul... it was a physical match with Oakland getting hit with three yellow cards and one red card while DePaul received two yellow cards...the Blue Demons started five freshmen and three sophomores on Opening Day... this is Blazer's 11th season at the helm... he guided the program to the BIG EAST Conference Championship semifinals in 2007 and 2008 and the NCAA tournament in 2007.