DePaul Soccer's Next Generation Opens Exhibition Season
Aug. 19, 2010
CHICAGO - DePaul men's soccer---the next generation---makes its debut Friday at the Toyota Park training field in Bridgeview.
A total of 15 new players will take up the Blue Demons' mission, opening the exhibition season against a Missouri S&T (Science & Technology) ballclub coached by former DePaul soccer player and ex-assistant coach Joe Ahearn.
"It's a tough challenge to play on Friday with only four days of practice," said DePaul coach Craig Blazer. "We have all these new players, and everyone needs to be around each other learning how to play together.
"The new guys are going to have an opportunity to play. We'll probably start three true freshmen against Missouri S&T, and others may have a chance off the bench.
"It all depends on how the game goes. We want to do well in the game and give our starters a chance to work together."
Blazer said the nucleus of the 2010 Blue Demons will be returnees such as Alex Mangan, Matt Leinauer, Andre Gutierrez, Willy Lara, Scott Freundlich, John Jandl and goalkeeper Joe Ferrari. Mangan's eight goals in 2009 tied the senior with Steffen Vroom for the team lead.
"The game will be a starting point for us, and we'll find out more about the team," Blazer said. "We graduated nine seniors last year, and six of them (Vroom, Patrick Hopkins, Mark Plotkin, Nathan Feltz, Erich Reichmann and Peter Sterbenz) played a lot of minutes these last four years.
"They headed up the big recruiting class of 2006 that had a major part in our team advancing to the BIG EAST Championship tournament four consecutive years."
Ahearn played at DePaul from 1996 to 1999 and was third-team, All-Conference USA in 1999. He was Blazer's assistant coach from 2002 through 2004.
After a stint as an assistant coach at Colgate, Ahearn took over the Missouri S&T Division II program in 2008. He begins his third season with the Miners after guiding them to the Great Lakes Valley Conference Tournament the last two years.
"I'm glad Joe is doing so well, and Plotkin is now a graduate assistant soccer coach at Northwestern," Blazer said. "It's good for our current players to see former Blue Demons go on to be successful coaches. It speaks to the development of our players and the foundation of our program."
Blazer said he hopes to get a clearer picture of his team after Friday's match.
"First and foremost, we're going to defend," Blazer said. "After that, it's how well we battle and find ways to score.
"Who are the key players who will form our defensive foundation? Offensively, who is our biggest playmaker, and who will score our goals?"