Blue Demon Men's Soccer Ready for Preseason Challenges
CHICAGO - Blue Demon soccer fans will get their first glimpse of the men's soccer team and its new offensive mindset when DePaul travels Wednesday to DeKalb for a preseason match against Northern Illinois.
Looking to follow up two consecutive trips to the BIG EAST semifinals, the Blue Demons are led by forwards Steffen Vroom and Alex Mangan. Vroom led the team last year with four goals while Mangan scored a team-high seven in 2007.
''We want to put the ball in the net a lot more this season,'' said DePaul coach Craig Blazer. ''We do a great job of holding the ball. We just need more of an attacking mindset---taking more chances.
''Vroom was second-team, All-BIG EAST last year, and opposing defenses had to always be aware of him. Now with Mangan back---he is one of our best players inside the penalty area---teams can't just focus on Vroom anymore.''
Mangan had a team-high five goals in 2006 when Vroom was injured. Last year with Mangan cheering from the sideline after being injured, Vroom headlined the Blue Demon offense.
They will be on the attack against a Northern Illinois team that went 11-6-4 last season and features sophomore midfielder Brad Horton. Last fall, Horton led the Huskies with 15 points on six goals and three assists. Also back for NIU is senior forward Josh Karsten who had seven points on three goals and one assist.
An even bigger challenge looms on Saturday when the Blue Demons face national power Indiana in a preseason match at the National Soccer Festival in Ft. Wayne, Ind.
The Hoosiers boast a preseason ranking of No. 6 in the country by Top Drawer Soccer and No. 7 by both the National Soccer Coaches Association of America and College Soccer News. They are also the preseason pick to win the Big 10 Conference.
Indiana, which was 14-7-3 last season and advanced to the NCAA quarterfinals, is led this season by senior All-Big Ten midfielder Eric Alexander. There's also seocnd-team, All-Big 10 midfielder Andy Allard and sophomore forward Will Bruin who was the Big 10's Freshman of the Year.
``That's going to be a big test for us,'' Blazer said. ``Indiana is one of the best teams you'd want to face.''
Other key returnees for the Blue Demons include defenders Patrick Hopkins, Erich Reichmann, Nathan Feltz and Peter Sterbenz along with midfielder Mark Plotkin.