Great Start, Rough Finish as Blue Demons Lose Soccer Home Opener
CHICAGO - It was such a promising start when Matt Leinauer deflected a shot by teammate Mark Plotkin into the net for DePaul's first goal of the season and an early lead on Saturday.
But that wouldn't be enough to hold off Green Bay, who rallied for a 2-1 victory and spoiled the Blue Demons' home opener at Wish Field.
The Blue Demon score came off some quick footwork by Leinauer. Plotkin had penetrated the Phoenix defense and gotten off a strong shot towards the goal. At the last second, Leinauer diverted the direction of the ball past Green Bay goalkeeper Ryan Wehking just 7 minutes, 39 seconds into the match.
"It was very exciting to get that first goal of the season,'' said DePaul coach Craig Blazer. "You could just see the guys gaining confidence from that one.
"At that point, it appeared we'd be able to use our good defending to create more scoring opportunities.''
Speaking of an opportunity, Green Bay's JC Banks pulled a fast one at the 30-minute mark. Lining up for a free kick, Banks blasted a shot before an unsuspecting Blue Demon defense had a chance to get set.
The shot glanced off the top of the crossbar and settled into the net.
"That first goal by Green Bay was fantastic,'' Blazer said. "Give credit to their player for kicking it before we had a chance to set up our wall properly. It was very heads-up on his part, and it caught us sleeping.
"They are doing something right over there."
Green Bay (1-0-1) dominated play in the second half, spending a majority of it attacking in the DePaul zone. The Phoenix outshot their host 10-2 after halftime.
"We could not get the ball out of our box," Blazer said. "All the energy we used defensively---when we wanted to trap and pass later on---we couldn't hold the ball.
"Then, we were defending again."
Early in the second half, Alex Mangan missed on a chance to put DePaul ahead.
"You get a feeling that when you don't make it, that's going to come back to haunt you," Blazer said.
Sure enough, Green Bay's Tony Walls scored on a header after being set up by Banks with 72:03 elapsed in the match. That would be just enough to drop DePaul to 0-2.
The road doesn't get any easier for the Blue Demons, who travel to Evanson on Monday for an showdown with Northwestern, ranked No. 9 in the nation coming into the season by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA).
NOTES: Freshman Joe Ferrari made his first start at goalkeeper for the Blue Demons on Saturday and turned away seven shots on goal... Green Bay came away with 15 total shots, led by Banks with four... DePaul got off seven shots as Plotkin took three while Antonio Aguilar and Mangan had two apiece... Right after the Blue Demons get done facing one nationally ranked opponent (Northwestern), they encounter UC-Irvine (ranked No. 15 by the NSCAA) on Friday.