The Blue Demons men’s soccer team (5-5-2) fell 2-0 to the Loyola Ramblers (9-1-0) Tuesday, adding another loss to a now three-game losing skid. Before the match, the Ramblers hadn’t won a game in Wish Field since 2000.
The game also featured the first time brothers Simon Megally, DePaul senior midfielder, and Aidan Megally, Loyola freshman midfielder, have played on the same field in an organized soccer match.
The Blue Demons began the year by notching high goal counts in their wins, but in the past 270 minutes, the team has only scored three times. That, coupled with the defensive breakdowns against better teams, has slowly chipped away at the high goal differential DePaul had early on in the season.
“Our team is the same team in what we want to do,” said DePaul coach Craig Blazer. “Now (other teams) have a tremendous amount of information on us, but we just need to put the ball down and . . . execute those plays we’re capable of making. Now we’re just not hitting those passes.”
Loyola was 12th ranked overall in Division I soccer coming into the yearly Northside rivalry game, and they showed their skill early in the match. Soon after the opening kickoff, the Ramblers controlled the field, even managing to put a pass across the Blue Demons goal crease within the first minute, however, they failed to convert. From there they continued to control most of the play.
After a Loyola penalty just outside the box, DePaul’s Megally shot for the Blue Demons and the shot was blocked. Megally soon recovered the ball back and tried another shot that was blocked again in front of the goal.
After another Loyola push, DePaul began to figure out Loyola’s offense and make a few great defensive stops. The only chances Loyola got came off of quick offensive strikes. Neither team was able to effectively set up on the other for most of the first. However, Loyola had most of the better chances in the remainder of the half.
“We knew this was going to be a physical game coming in,” said junior Caleb Pothast. “If you are the guy who is not going in hard, you’re going to be on the wrong end of it. In order to want (to win), you got to get stuck in.”
In fact, there were 29 total fouls in the game, 14 by DePaul and 15 by Loyola. DePaul didn’t necessarily get outplayed physically, but chances on either end were stopped because of the numerous fouls committed.
After a great play from their zone, Loyola’s 24 managed to put a screaming shot on net and DePaul keeper Quentin Low stood strong and pushed the ball out of the way.
Toward the end the of the first half Loyola had its best chance in the game so far when a loose ball found its way to Loyola 15, but he was unable to settle it down quick enough and his shot was blocked by Depaul defenseman sophomore Anton Sell in the 38th minute of the game.
The Ramblers continued to get chances, however, and in the 41st minute the Ramblers finally struck. A couple of precise passes from midfielders Kyle Thompson and Fabian Lifka found forward Connor Stevenson and he tapped a goal into the left corner of the Blue Demon’s goal.
Most of Loyola’s best plays came because of their crisp passes. Even under pressure, the team was able to find open men. DePaul had trouble setting up in the offensive zone because the defense would collapse on the attackers after passes that were either too hard or misplaced.
At half, the Ramblers led 1-0.
After the half, the Ramblers began to dominate the field of play like they did in the first. In the 51st minute of the match, their aggressiveness paid off. After an offensive push by DePaul, Ramblers forward Elliot Collier sprung forward Fabian Lifka on a breakaway and he buried the ball in an open net.
After the Ramblers’ goal, the Blue Demons began to press back. For the remainder of the game DePaul was mainly on offense and the Ramblers were content to counter attack once DePaul overextended themselves.
Rambler goalie junior Andrew Chekadanov remained untested throughout the match until he finally recorded his only save off of a shot by DePaul sophomore midfielder John Freitag in the final second.
“Every game’s a huge game,” said Blazer. “We want the guys to get the most out of their minutes. If you’re on the field, you play as hard and as smart as you can, and good things will happen. For some reason we’ve gotten away from that. . . we got to get back to that point where the guys believe in what we’re doing.
DePaul will play their third conference game against Seton Hall (3-6-1) Saturday.