DePaul Opens Against Horizon League Favorite Milwaukee
Aug. 28, 2014
CHICAGO - DePaul can hardly wait to kick off the 2014 season that begins with a 7 p.m. match Friday at NCAA tournament qualifier Milwaukee.
That should be quite a test on opening night as the Blue Demons face a team picked to finish first in the Horizon League.
"We like the challenge of playing such a good team right off the bat," said DePaul coach Craig Blazer. "Every day in training, we have been learning more about ourselves. We have a good foundation of soccer players who are working hard and are very coachable.
"The response to dealing with change and making adjustments is pretty good. The players have responded well to the adversities of preseason and the normal kinds of injuries."
Solid defending enabled the Blue Demons to give up just one goal in two preseason games---a 1-0 loss at Michigan and 4-0 victory over Lewis at Wish Field.
"What I like is that the attitude is good as we learn how we want to defend and how we want to attack," Blazer said. "One of the biggest strengths of our team is the exceptional leadership from team captains Art Garza, Koray Yesilli and Brian Hindle along with defenders Jake Douglas and Kevin Beyer and goalkeeper Mack Robinson.
"These guys weren't able to play consistently in the winter and spring because of injuries. But they are getting the necessary playing time now and making the most of it. Their consistency and positive attitude are really helping the players in front of them."
A steadying influence is critical to a group that brought in 11 recruits along with Robinson, who transferred from Ohio Dominican. It's a versatile and talented freshman group hoping to make a smooth transition to Division I college soccer.
"We're developing an attack behind guys like Garza, Simon Megally, Erik Rodriguez and Anthony Hunter," Blazer said. "They have played consistently well throughout the preseason.
"This is a cohesive group that realizes we have to manage all the demands and challenges of going on the road to win. That doesn't seem like the biggest obstacle to them. It's a team that works hard and sticks together. We're all excited for this opportunity on Friday night."
Milwaukee went 15-3-2 and won the Horizon League title while outscoring teams 39-13 last fall. In the preseason, the Panthers battled BIG EAST Conference power Creighton to a scoreless tie and finished in a 2-2 deadlock against Wisconsin-Parkside.
The Panthers are led by NSCAA All-American and 2013 Horizon League Player of the Year Laurie Bell from England. He had 13 goals and four assists last season and has been named to the Hermann Trophy Watch List. Other top returnees include Luke Goodnetter (All-Horizon League Second Team), Aaron Horvat and goalkeeper Liam Anderson (0.63 GAA, 10 shutouts).
"We lost to them 2-1 in overtime on a corner kick last year at Wish Field," Blazer said. "Milwaukee's Engelmann Stadium has a great atmosphere, and we are looking forward to that."
The Blue Demons follow up the Milwaukee match with another road test, this one on Monday at Green Bay. The Phoenix is coming off a 7-7-3 season that included a 3-2 victory over DePaul at Wish Field.
In the preseason, Green Bay defeated St. Thomas and Wisconsin-Parkside by identical 4-0 scores. Audi Jepson scored three times in the two matches while Faycal Oulahbib had two goals and two assists and Tyler Swanner had two goals and one assist.