Blue Demons Challenge Michigan in Exhibition Match on Tuesday
Aug. 18, 2014
CHICAGO – Craig Blazer greeted the new week with an upbeat attitude and a sense of optimism as the DePaul men’s soccer team prepared for its first action.
The Blue Demons will travel to Ann Arbor, Mich. on Tuesday for a 2 p.m. exhibition match against Michigan.
“Our players and coaching staff are very excited for the season to begin,” said Blazer, who enters his 14th season as head coach. “We have a very tight group led by the seniors and upperclassmen.
“The returning guys have done a good job of integrating with the new players. With four weeks of summer school, they are all getting to know each other.
“Guys have worked all summer in improving themselves. The work rate is very high and training has gone well. They are developing a competitive edge, and we are all looking forward to Tuesday’s match at Michigan.”
The Wolverines were 8-7-3 last season, 3-3-0 and fourth in the Big Ten. They are led by 2013 leading scorers James Murphy and TJ VanSlooten along with Tyler Amone. Goalkeeper Adrian Grinwis was 7-7-3 with a 1.26 goals-against average.
“Michigan is a good program with a lot of very good soccer players and a lot of athleticism,” Blazer said. “By going on the road and facing a tough opponent, we’re trying to replicate the conditions and challenges our guys will encounter on our trips to Milwaukee and Green Bay in a couple of weeks.”
DePaul will be led by its senior co-captains, leading scorer Art Garza and top defender Koray Yesilli. Other key returnees include Jalen Harvey, Jake Douglas, Simon Megally, Erik Rodriguez, Kevin Beyer and Anthony Hunter while Brian Hindle is back from a season-ending injury.
“This team is very coachable and eager to learn,” Blazer said. “We established a foundation last winter and spring, and we are seeing the benefits of our returnees getting so much playing time in the spring.
“With the addition of the new players, the vision of how good we can become is getting clearer. The incoming guys are a fun group, and it is enjoyable to be around them. They are very coachable and have bonded well with the upperclassmen.”
It is an ongoing process that will hold the Blue Demons in good stead during the ups and downs of a soccer season that flies by all too quickly.
“The coaches are very impressed with the team bonding that has been going on,” Blazer said. “We have three players from Germany, one from Italy and two from Bermuda. Those two guys from Bermuda have great personalities and are fun to be around.”
Blazer’s team will play their first game on the newly resurfaced Wish Field on Saturday when Lewis arrives in Lincoln Park for a 1 p.m. exhibition game.
“You always look forward to playing at home,” Blazer said. “The resurfacing of Wish Field brought about a positive reinforcement of establishing the way we want to play. Our guys really enjoy playing on the new turf. They are all quite committed to making a big improvement.”