The DePaul men’s soccer team trounced the UIC Flames (1-4-1) 4-0 at Wish Field Wednesday bringing them to 4-1-2 before their first conference game against Xavier this Saturday.
At the eighth minute in the first half the Flames had their best chances of the game when they put two shots on net, but junior Quentin Low could not be beat. He made a remarkable dive to save the first and recovered quickly to save and hold on to the second shot seconds later off a corner kick.
However, the tide soon turned in DePaul’s favor when at the 12th minute UIC’s senior keeper Andrew Putna dashed out to stop a streaking DePaul sophomore John Freitag and interfered with the play. Putna stopped Freitag from scoring, but earned himself a red card for the interference. UIC replaced him with freshman Sokratis Vaslias and had to play a man down for the remainder of the game.
“Pivotal point was at the 12th minute when we had a great combination play and sent John Freitag though,” said Coach Craig Blazer. “If their goal keeper didn’t reach up and grab the ball it would’ve been the first goal. The referee did the right thing to give them the red card, and after that it became a completely different game.”
Despite their handicap, UIC was able to play lights out defense early on by clogging up the middle which prevented DePaul from setting up quality shots, and the team recorded four more shots in the half.
DePaul’s best chances of the half came off of three corner kicks, but Vaslias was able to shut down three total shots from both defenseman Max de Bruijne and forward Stijn van der Slot.
At half the game remained scoreless.
However, in the 47th minute just past the half DePaul finally found the back of the net. Midfielder and captain Simon Megally broke the tie with a shot set up by de Bruijne and captain defenseman Caleb Pothast.
“We were rushing it (the first half) because we knew they were a man down,” said Megally. “At half time we talked about slowing it down in our minds but not slowing the play, having two seconds on the ball. Keep it moving. When we were patient on the ball, that’s when it opened up.”
DePaul played a much more calculated game throughout the second half. The Blue Demons kept the ball at midfield and passed quickly back and forth from defenseman to defenseman in order to stretch out UIC’s defense and find holes left by Putna’s early red card.
As DePaul began to dominate possession time, UIC began to tire and more plays began to take form for DePaul.
In the 65th minute of the game de Bruijne booted the ball from the point to junior forward Philipp Koenigstein who buried it in net. Koenigstein was set up nine minutes later from a perfect pass from junior midfielder Hans Wustling and knocked the ball in with a header bringing the Blue Demon’s lead to 3-0.
“What we practice a lot is checking our shoulders so we know where what’s behind up, we know where our opponents are and we also knows where our teammates are,” said Koenigstein. “When I get I good turn I know (the ball is) going to be there because we want to play offensive soccer.”
Two minutes after Koenigstein’s goal, Megally sniped a goal from 20 yards to the left of the goal to bring the Blue Demon’s to their final score of 4-0.
“I was looking to set my defender up so . . . the first time I got the ball I went left , so the next time . . . I cut in with my right foot,” said Megally. “Luckily I got past him and hit it.”
DePaul’s four goals Wednesday brings their total to 18 on the season tying Notre Dame for second place in the country, and the team looks to carry to their scoring confidence with them as they begin conference play. The Blue Demon’s success greatly contrasts with last year’s season in which DePaul was 1-6-0 at this point in the season.
We have some momentum going forward into the first Big East game against Xavier,” said Blazer. “The ideas are there, (the team) believes in what they are doing.”
The men travel to Cincinnati Saturday to play the Xavier Musketeers in their first conference game of the season.