Kulnig's Catch of the Day Not Enough
Oct. 13, 2010
CHICAGO - All it took was 73 seconds for DePaul to go from back-slapping jubilation to a heart-breaking finish.
Goalkeeper John Michael Kulnig had the Wish Field at Cacciatore Stadium crowd and his teammates roaring their approval Wednesday after stopping a penalty kick against No. 22/25 USF in the 77th minute.
But then came a foul on Kulnig near the end of the 78th minute that led to a penalty-kick goal in the Blue Demons stunning 1-0 loss in the BIG EAST Conference.
What hurt the most was DePaul (3-7-3, 0-3-1 in the BIG EAST) putting on one of its best performances of the season, countering the Bulls at every turn---only to come up empty.
Kulnig made the biggest play of the game, diving to his right and snuffing a penalty kick by Kevin Olali.
"J-M made a huge, unbelievable save that you only see at the top class," said De Paul coach Craig Blazer. "Right there, he singlehandedly turned the game around."
USF (7-2-3, 2-1-1) recovered quickly from its missed opportunity and sent the ball deep into the Blue Demon defensive third.
Kulnig raced out to smother the ball and collided with a Bulls player in the penalty box, drawing the crucial foul.
"J-M is allowed to go after the ball as a defensive player," Blazer said. "The referee didn't see it that way.
"All I know is that it's very rare to have two penalty kicks against you in the same game."
USF made the most of its second chance as Shawn Chin fired it past Kulnig for his fourth goal of the season.
Playing the same 11 players for virtually the entire 90 minutes, Blazer concocted a game plan that turned this match into a tense battle of defensive-minded teams.
USF All-American goalkeeper Jeff Attinella had come into Wish Field with a streak of four consecutive shutouts.
"We played smart and didn't give USF many chances," Blazer said. "We were trying to find a way to establish possession and still get a goal."
Trailing by a goal, the Blue Demons intensified their attack. They had their best shot near the end when a header by Alex Mangan bounced off the crossbar.
"I'm proud of our guys, and they did a great job today," Blazer said. "It's just tough that such a good performance wasn't validated by the final score."
DePaul is back at Wish Field for a 1 p.m. match Saturday against Providence.
NOTES: DePaul did not get off a shot in the first half, but came back with seven shots---two on goal---in the second half... USF finished with 10 shots overall and four on goal... Mangan led DePaul with three shots while Andre Gutierrez had two shots, one on goal... Willy Lara had the Blue Demons' other shot on goal... the Blue Demons are tied with St. John's for the sixth and final playoff spot in the BIG EAST's Red Division.