Evolving Blue Demons Face Western Michigan
Aug. 19, 2011
CHICAGO – So far, so good for a young DePaul men’s soccer team that is a constantly evolving work in progress.
The Blue Demons will look for a sweep of their two-game preseason with an exhibition match at Western Michigan at 3 p.m. on Saturday.
“We’re developing and making progress,” said DePaul coach Craig Blazer as his team hopes to successfully follow up on last Sunday’s 1-0 victory over Eastern Illinois in Charleston. “We have some new, quality players in our six incoming freshmen, and the 14 freshmen from last year all have a season of college soccer experience.”
“While we’re young, we are also gaining maturity and experience,” Blazer said. “Defensively, we’re showing a good understanding of how to work as a team.
“As a result, our defense really helped our offense. It was a very committed back line and goalkeeper that understood its role of not giving up a goal. That freed up our front six to attack.
“We had a number of good chances in the final third. We kept up the pressure and got some shots on goal.”
The initial success buoyed spirits in practices this week, especially among the Blue Demons who did not travel to Eastern Illinois.
“It sent a message,” Blazer said. “When we got back, there was such a positive response from those who didn’t travel. It picked up the whole team, and we had some enthusiastic training sessions.”
With the Blue Demons utilizing a high-press strategy, team depth becomes critical as Blazer looks to keep his players fresh.
“First of all, I’m really happy that these guys came back in shape to give us outstanding team fitness,” Blazer said. "We had individual and team bests in our fitness tests.
“That’s a result of all the guys being excited for the opportunity in front of them this season. It’s a good sign for our team.”
All-BIG EAST Second Team standout Antonio Aguilar heads up the nucleus of this team that also includes defensive stalwarts Matt Leinauer and John Jandl, De Leon, Austin Toth and goalkeepers Joe Ferrari and Eric Sorby.
Blazer will keep a sharp eye on up-and-coming youngsters such as freshmen Hunter, Jake Douglas, Thiago Ganancio, Cale Hartle, Kyle Gustafson and Michael Stankiewicz plus sophomores Zach Forbes, Jared Blincow, David Leverentz, Art Garza, Brian Schultz and Mauricio Velasco.
“We know Western Michigan is a very good team that scored a lot of goals (33) last season,” Blazer said about the Broncos who were 10-8-2 overall and second in the Mid-American Conference at 4-2-0.
“I’m excited we’ll be giving our players an opportunity to show us what they can do against a high-quality opponent.”