DePaul Hopes to Measure Up Against NCAA Power Creighton
Sept. 10, 2010
CHICAGO - Maybe it's a good thing DePaul has so many young guys on its men's soccer team.
They probably won't dwell on the magnitude of the challenge that awaits them Saturday night in Omaha, Neb.
Creighton is a perennial NCAA tournament team that journeyed to the West Coast and knocked off No. 21 UC Santa Barbara earlier in the week.
The Bluejays had a run of 17 consecutive NCAA tournament appearances snapped last season, and they're apparently out to make amends.
They'll take the Morrison Stadium field at 7 p.m. with a 3-0-0 record, outscoring their opponents 7-0.
Leading the way is Soccer America preseason All-American Ethan Finlay, who is also on the Hermann Trophy Watch List.
"Creighton is an outstanding program, and it's one of the best places to play college soccer with an unbelievable atmosphere and a great soccer venue," said DePaul coach Craig Blazer.
"In the past, our team would have been a little awed by it. This year, our young guys are very eager for the opportunity to play there.
"We're going against one of the top programs in the country, and we'll find out how we measure up."
Despite opening up with three games in five days last week, the Blue Demons came away with a 1-0 victory over Florida International, a 1-1 tie with 2009 NCAA tournament team Western Illinois and a 2-1 loss to NCAA qualifier Green Bay.
"This group understands that we have been winners in the past and honestly believes that is what's in store for them," Blazer said. "I don't know if they're aware of just how difficult it is to get a win."
Freshmen Ray De Leon and Art Garza collaborated on setting up Alex Mangan for the game-winning header goal in last Sunday's win over Florida International. The Blue Demons have 16 freshmen on their roster.
"That goal was vintage Alex Mangan," Blazer said. "De Leon fielded a pass from Garza and sent in a perfectly executed cross.
"If you give Alex some space and he gets that much time to set up, he will do well to finish that opportunity.
"Another freshman, Stephen Korosis, had a great first half for us."
"Antonio and Willy are both special-skilled players," Blazer said. "We weren't satisfied with the tie and kept pressing for the winner. That's a great attitude to have.
"That tie gave us confidence to build on, and we had our best half so far in the first half of Sunday's match."
They could use two periods like that in Omaha.
"We have discovered a group of players who have stepped forward to be our starters," Blazer said. "We've got a strong group from top to bottom that has shown the character to dig deep and fight when it's necessary.
"They believe in what they're doing, and really believe they can win."