It was by far the toughest match the DePaul (9-2-2, 3-0-0) women’s soccer team has had all season long, but they somehow found a way to thwart Seton Hall’s physicality and emerge 1-0 victors.
“It’s a good win. (We knew) this game was going to be tough,” coach Erin Chastain said. “They really tried to disrupt what we were trying to do and that was their game plan.”
Seton Hall (2-8-2, 1-2-0) came out physical and it upset DePaul’s momentum for the opening hour of the match. Midfielders Alexa Ben and Madeline Frick did everything they could to try to feed the forwards through balls and create chances, but the Pirates’ defense held pat and would not be broken.
As the match progressed and the foul tally increased, frustration began to show and it resulted in Seton Hall’s defense slipping up several times over the final half hour. This was when DePaul started to look like the undefeated Big East favorites everyone is familiar with.
“(Fouls) stopped a lot of our attacks (in the first half),” Chastain said. “In the second half, we had a lot of really good chances to score.”
The breakthrough came in the 79th minute when DePaul was awarded a free kick in Seton Hall territory. Ben had been the primary free kick taker this match, but as soon as the foul was called, Chastain shouted for the freshman Frick to step-up.
“I’ve been practicing them in practice and I just kept hitting the post, so when Alexa told me to take it, I was like ‘okay, this time I have to get it,’” Frick said. “I saw the wall and thought I would bend it around and hopefully get it in.”
That’s exactly what she did to get her third goal of the season, along with getting some help from the crossbar.
“I was a little nervous I would hit the post again, but luckily it hit the bottom of the post and went down,” Frick said. “I was super excited.”
With the game winding down, it was a bit of a surprise to hear Chastain call off her reliable midfielder Ben from the free kick, in favor of the freshman Frick. It was all part of her strategy, though.
“Alexa had already taken a couple, so (it was) just to give the goalkeeper a different look,” Chastain said. “We’ve seen Maddie and what she can do in training with set pieces. She hits the ball so hard, so anytime we have a scoring chance free kick, her and Alexa do such a great job.”
“At different times, different players step up for their team and she stepped up in a key moment for us and got us a goal when we needed it,” Chastain said.
It got a little easier for DePaul in the 80th minute, right after Frick’s goal, when Seton Hall’s Jackie Saint John received her second yellow card of the match, resulting in a red card, after a harsh tackle on the goal scorer Frick. The freshman was shaken up and substituted afterwards, but seemed fine despite not returning for the final ten minutes.
“I thought some of the fouls were unnecessary and I think they paid for the style they played by taking a red card at the end of the game,” Chastain said.
In a match that had “0-0 draw” written all over it, Frick stepping up and securing the Blue Demons a crucial three points in conference play showed the versatility and determination of the squad. Chastain feels this type of win is exactly what the team needed moving forward.
“What will help us the most is being able to pull off a 1-0, tight game victory,” Chastain said. “Being able to just build off of this and know that a goal is coming if we’re in tight 0-0 games moving forward, we know we can find a way to finish the game off.”