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The struggle is real: DePaul men’s soccer reflects on season

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Freshman Hans Wustling was named to the All-Big East Freshman team. (Photo courtesy of DePaul Athletics)

Freshman Hans Wustling was named to the All-Big East Freshman team. (Photo courtesy of DePaul Athletics)

Through a series of five games stretching 17 days, DePaul men’s soccer went without a goal.  In that span, DePaul went 0-3-2, and frustration mounted that they couldn’t score goals.

“I’ve been on a couple of teams where we’ve had troubles scoring goals,” goalkeeper Mack Robinson said.  “The best thing I can do is to keep the zero, and try to motivate my teammates to keep working hard.

“But what we really need is just really one or two guys to come in and start scoring goals,” Robinson added. “If we can do that, it would make an immense difference in our play.”

Offensive struggles were just one of the many challenges that DePaul faced this season. Now with their season over, head coach Craig Blazer and his team have had time to reflect after finishing with a 4-10-4 (1-6-2 Big East) record and a ninth place finish in the Big East.

This is the fifth season in a row where the men’s soccer team has had at least 10 losses.  Despite it not translating into wins, Blazer said his team was on the same page for most of the season.

“We had a lot of commonality on this team,” Blazer said. “The guys know that it’s a team first mentality and we really have to get the most out of them.  They bought into that. Scoring goals was a challenge for us.”

DePaul averaged just .94 goals per game and only 9.33 shots per game, which were ninth and last in the Big East respectively. Blazer said that the team often had to rely on a committee approach, but also noted that DePaul had the most success when the team was playing well defensively.

Blazer said that when the team was pressing in the attacking third, it was creating opportunities to score. His team was trying to replicate that model which led to a 3-1 victory over Seton Hall on Sept. 27.

“That was a breakout game for us,” Blazer said. “On the flipside, we also defended the ball really well, which helped a lot.”

The Seton Hall game, however, would be the last time DePaul would win a game in the season.  The Blue Demons ended their year with a three-game losing streak and finished the season with giving up 1.57 goals per game.

Robinson, who transferred to DePaul this season from a very successful two years at Ohio Dominican, said that the team has to work on the “little things” like the attacking third this upcoming winter.

“We’re really dedicated to make sure that next year isn’t an ‘eh-it-could-have been’-season,” Robinson said.  “We’ve had quite a few seasons where we could have been there. We’re tied of almost being the best. We’re tired of almost beating nationally ranked teams.  The guys understand that we have to work the entire year instead of the three or four months we’re actually playing.”

  Losing defender Koray Yesilli for the season was also a big blow to the Blue Demons. Yesilli, a senior, broke his leg Sept. 20 against the University of Illinois at Chicago and missed the remainder of the year. Blazer said that injury was the biggest setback for his team this season.

But there were bright sides to the season as well. Freshman Hans Wustling was named to the All-Big East rookie team, and other younger players such as freshman Alessandro Thomas and sophomore Simon Megally grew into their roles.

Megally, who led the team in shots, and sophomore Erik Rodriguez will be among DePaul’s forwards who have the chance to boost DePaul’s offense next season.

Blazer said the foundation is there for the Blue Demons to succeed in the future, and that they’re taking the necessary steps.

“The guys always responded to coaching,” Blazer said. “They responded to each other. Though this season was challenging, it was never from a lack of effort.”

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The struggle is real: DePaul men’s soccer reflects on season