The DePaul men’s soccer team fell 4-1 to 12-ranked Creighton Saturday and fell to 5-3-2 overall.
The Blue Demons aren’t where they wanted or expected to be after two conference games, but continue to look positively toward the future. They also focus on what they did right during the game rather than dwelling on tough losses.
“The score line didn’t really reflect what happened in the game,” said DePaul coach Craig Blazer. “The second goal made it tough, but I give our guys a lot of credit for coming back and making it 2-1.”
He was right. For 85 minutes, this was a tense match, and Creighton’s final two, gut-wrenching goals came with less than five minutes left.
From the opening kick, the pace was lightning fast. The Creighton men are known for their speed, and they are the deepest team the Blue Demons have had to compete against so far in the season.
Despite their deep roster, two of Creighton’s stars took all the glory against DePaul. On the front end, Creighton forward Riggs Lennon recorded a hat trick plus one with all four of Creighton’s goals. On the back end, goalkeeper Alex Kapp came into the game with a .912 save percentage, second the one in men’s Division 1 soccer. He continued his trend of being rock-solid in net, diving to save well-placed shots from DePaul on more than one occasion.
The game was pretty back and forth in the opening minutes. Both teams got quick chances on offense by counter attacking the other team.
Junior keeper Quentin Low recorded his first save of the night in the seventh minute of the match off of Creighton forward Ricky Lopez-Espin. However, DePaul quickly counterattacked and senior forward Eric Rodriguez was sprung from a wonderful pass from Hans Wustling less than a minute later. Rodriguez couldn’t place his shot on net, however, and the ball soared over the goal.
After that chance, DePaul held the offensive momentum. Five minutes later the Blue Demons had another great chance when freshman forward Stijn van der Slot shot the ball on goal, but Creighton’s keeper Kapp dove and put a hand on the ball to deflect it wide.
Like DePaul’s counterattack after Creighton’s chance, a minute later Creighton switched to the offensive and Lennon scored his first goal from the top of the box with a well-placed shot that rose just above Low’s outstretched arm in the center of the goal.
“The goal they scored kind of came against the run of play,” said senior defensive-midfielder Kevin Beyer. “Letting a goal in when you’re feeling it kind of takes the air out of your lungs.”
The Blue Demons had their best chance of the half following a yellow card just outside the box. After the kick Creighton struggled to clear the ball from their side of the field and allowed DePaul two corner kicks, which gave freshman Max de Bruijne a chance to use his height and record a shot off of his head.
Creighton managed to record four more shots in the remaining time in the first, the first of which Low had to scramble to cover after his initial save. Although Creighton was controlling most of the offensive play, the Blue Demons were still able to match the Blue Jays intensity and make some offensive counters.
At half the match remained 1-0.
In the second half, Creighton began to take over the match, and began to set up their plays more efficiently with some great passes. Low had to make two back-to-back saves off Creighton attacks in order to keep it a one goal game.
However, relentless attack is usually rewarded. At the nineteenth minute of the second half, Lennon put in his second goal of the day after four successive shots by his team.
After the goal, the Blue Demons began to press forward to take the momentum back.
“(Pressing forward) is definitely a difficult role to play,” said Beyer. “It’s a lot of awareness . . . and taking your chances when you think you have the numbers forward.”
Sure enough, DePaul’s pressure eventually broke down Creighton’s tight defense. Eleven minutes after Creighton’s second goal, senior offensive-midfielder Eric Rodriguez slotted the ball past Kapp making it a one-goal match once again. Rodriguez was assisted by DePaul defenseman Caleb Pothast and forward Simon Megally.
DePaul began to press forward after the goal, and made two more great shot attempts, but lost their defensive ground. Creighton exploited their press and Lennon put two more shots in goal 36 seconds apart before the game was over.
“There were a number of positives from the game, and we’ll recover and review the game,” said Blazer. “We’ll get after it for our next game against Villanova.”
DePaul will continue their conference play against Villanova on Oct. 1.