Exemplary Play Not Enough in DePaul's Loss to No. 21 Notre Dame
CHICAGO - The DePaul men's soccer team came away from its classic showdown with Notre Dame on Friday beaten---but unbowed.
From Blue Demon coach Craig Blazer to team captain Patrick Hopkins, there was a feeling of accomplishment despite the final score that showed the Fighting Irish on top 2-1 in the BIG EAST opener at Wish Field.
"This is the best performance we've ever had against Notre Dame," Blazer said. "I was pleased with the way we played, just disappointed in the result.
"There were some critical moments that wound up deciding this game."
One of those was Steffen Vroom's powerful shot in the first half that bounced off the post after a nice pass from Antonio Aguilar.
In the second half, Alex Mangan smashed one off the post and Vroom swooped in for the rebound. His shot was rebuffed on a nice save by Notre Dame goalkeeper Phillip Tuttle.
"I know they won the game, but I thought we played as well, if not better than they did," Hopkins said. "It seemed like we had more chances than them to score, and we just barely missed on several opportunities.
"All of us our holding our heads up high. We feel like we stayed right with Notre Dame for 90 minutes."
No. 21 Notre Dame (3-2-1, 1-0 in the BIG EAST) struck first when Jeb Brovsky dribbled past the Blue Demon defense and connected into the upper-right corner of the net in the 10th minute.
It didn't take long for the Blue Demons to respond. Mark Plotkin scored an unassisted goal in the 26th minute with a blast from 30 yards out that sailed over Tuttle's head into the net.
It was Plotkin's second goal of the season.
"That was a great shot by Plotkin," Hopkins said. "He has been playing at another level, and people just haven't recognized it. He has really stepped up his game and filled a void for us in the midfield."
The Fighting Irish took advantage of a Blue Demon breakdown in the second half and BIG EAST Preseason Offensive Player of the Year Bright Dike seized the opportunity to score his fourth goal of the season.
"We had a critical turnover at midfield, and that was unfortunate," Blazer said. "There were a number of mistakes on our part that led to their winning goal.
"Overall, I was very pleased with our performance. If we play like this on Sunday against Marquette, we're going to be all right."
Hopkins echoed his coach's sentiment.
"I feel like we let this one get away," Hopkins said. "But, the true test of a good team is how we bounce back on Sunday."