Men's Soccer Seniors Fired Up for One Final Hurrah
Oct. 22, 2012
CHICAGO – When David Leverentz and Antonio Aguilar walk onto Wish Field on Friday for the final time in their careers, each will be a far cry from the soccer players that first set foot there four seasons ago.
The quartet’s final hurrah and season finale will be witnessed by a Field Trip Day crowd of enthusiastic school children hoping to scream their way to a Blue Demon victory.
“I was very immature as a freshman,” Leverentz said. “I’d get into disagreements with the coaches. But they stuck with me and helped me mature.
“I became somebody I never thought I’d see myself as, thanks to them. They were always there for me and always gave me a second chance to prove I belonged on this team.”
Aguilar listened to his teammate and nodded his head.
“I also came in very immature, and I wasn’t a hard worker” Aguilar said. “Coach Craig Blazer and his coaching staff turned me into a hard worker. Now, I come to practice 20 minutes early.”
Once he got over those growing pains, Aguilar’s career blossomed. As a freshman, he was named to the BIG EAST All-Rookie Team. As a sophomore, he made All-BIG EAST Second Team. Last season, he was selected All-BIG EAST First Team.
As the only freshman on the field back in 2009, Aguilar became the standard bearer for his class.
“Our freshman year against Marquette, Tony scored two goals and we beat them in double overtime,” Schultz said. “On the winning goal, Tony had a free kick and he bent it in near post.
“The whole freshman class went crazy. We tackled him and piled on top of him. He was the only freshman playing and represented all of us.”
A grimace came across Aguilar’s face.
“I was dying under there,” he said. “I couldn’t breathe. That’s something I’ll never forget.”
Leverentz stayed the course even as others dropped out.
“We lost a few from our original freshman class,” Leverentz said. “Those of us left have gone through a lot together, and when we’re done, we are all going to remain close.”
Schultz is viewing Senior Day from a slightly different perspective.
“Through all the injuries, this is the bittersweet end,” Schultz said. “Coming back after two injuries taught me some valuable lessons. When I’m playing on Friday, I’ll be keeping all of that in my mind.
“I had a broken leg going into my freshman year. Coach Blazer was very understanding and told me to get better because the team was going to need me.
“The first game of my junior year, I broke my elbow in the first half of the season opener. I worked hard all winter to get back into shape for my senior year.
“What kept me going besides my family was the support of my teammates. They said they couldn’t imagine me not being on the team. That really helped.
“Tony (Aguilar) is my roommate, and he would go to Dominick’s to get my medicine. He would get me a glass of water and do whatever it took to help me out.”
Schultz’s comeback is complete after scoring the first two goals of his collegiate career this season.
“I have a strong appreciation for being able to play Division I soccer and to compete in the BIG EAST,” Schultz said. “The training staff here did so much to help me with rehab. The doctors at Rush University Medical Center are some of the best in the world, and I had access to them because of DePaul.”
Toth competed in his first BIG EAST Championship two years ago after an inexperienced Blue Demon team with 16 freshmen on the roster did the improbable and qualified for the postseason on the final day of the regular season.
“It was a great experience for me when we beat Rutgers 2-0 on the road to qualify for the BIG EAST tournament my sophomore year,” Toth said. “That was my first time playing in the BIG EAST playoffs. Tony and Ray De Leon scored the goals and everybody was screaming and jumping around after the game.
“It all happens so fast, and you want to make this last game memorable. I may never again compete at such a high level in anything after soccer. I want to reach a high level in something, but it won’t be something I love as much as soccer.”
Each group of seniors hands over the leadership mantle to the underclassmen even as they strive to set an example for those who follow.
Aguilar remembers the looks of unbridled joy on the faces of the seniors when DePaul upset Georgetown on penalty kicks in the 2009 BIG EAST playoff opener.
That was the match where freshman goalkeeper Joe Ferrari defied the odds and blocked two PKs on the Hoyas’ home field.
“We had eight seniors, and it was fun to watch them being so happy,” Aguilar said. “We had a good group of leaders that season with guys like Mark Plotkin, Patrick Hopkins, Steffen Vroom. They showed us how to lead as a group, and we tried to follow in their footsteps.”
Toth is ready to take what he learned at DePaul into the next stage of his life.
“I’ve already done a lot of interviews with financial companies, and they ask me to name examples of when I worked as part of a team, managed my time and multi-tasked,” Toth said. “All of that goes directly to DePaul soccer.
“The soccer program and the university have prepared me for the things I’m going to need in the professional world.”
But before he starts wearing a suit to work every day, there’s one more task at hand.
“My four years comes down to this last game,” Leverentz said. “This will be the last time playing soccer for most of us. It will be the last time on Wish Field where there so many memories.
“We all want to end our careers with a BIG EAST win.”