DePaul 1-2 Western Illinois: Men’s soccer falls to visiting Leathernecks

Two goals from Leathernecks forward Austin Gochneaur saw the men’s soccer team fall at Wish Field Wednesday afternoon 2-1 to Western Illinois.

Although scoring at both ends of the pitch, Gochneaur’s brace was scored in similar fashion: off the crossbar.

The freshman’s first goal of the afternoon came in just the first minute when some sloppy clearances by the Blue Demons (1-1-0) enabled Mario Alvarez to find the 6-3 forward. Gochneaur headed the ball off the crossbar before it bounced over the line to give Western Illinois (1-2-0) the lead.

Gochneaur picked up his second in the 68th minute. First shooting off the crossbar, Gochneaur then headed home the rebound to regain the lead for the Leathernecks after Brian Hindle leveled terms in the 27th minute.

“It’s disappointing to give up a goal in the first minute the way we did,” said head coach Craig Blazer. “We did well to get the tying goal, but it’s disappointing because statistically we managed a lot and showed improvement, but couldn’t find the second goal.”

Hindle’s equalizer in the 27th minute was also scored in awkward circumstances, with the freshman scoring his first collegiate goal just seconds after being subbed on.

“It was just a reaction goal,” the freshman midfielder said. “I was just trying to trap it with my chest so I could volley it, but I used my thigh instead. Once I hit it I knew the defender couldn’t get to it.”

Hindle said it felt “amazing” to score the first goal of his college career before adding, “I wish we could have gotten the result, but it’s still good to be on the board as a freshman.”

Statistically, DePaul created more opportunities than Western Illinois – including outshooting the Leathernecks 21 to 6 – but couldn’t create the type of clear-cut chances needed to get the result, according to Blazer.

“We did a lot of what we’ve been working on, we just didn’t do enough in each of the penalty boxes,” he said. “We’re ahead of where we were against UIC. (Western) weren’t really threatening, our pressure was good, but to give up those two goals shows our inconsistencies a bit.”

Some good opportunities fell to Antonio Aguilar and Austin Toth in the second half, but both missed the target. Aguilar also had a curling free kick expertly saved by Yves Dietrich in the 49th minute that was palmed away by a full-extension dive.

The Blue Demons thought they had taken the lead in the 63rd minute on a Zach Forbes header.

Coming off an Aguilar corner, Forbes headed down towards the near post but was kept out due to a goal-line clearance. Jared Blincow and Thiago Ganancio also had shots in the ensuing scuffle that were also kept out.

Ganancio, who was named Big East Offensive Player of the Week for his two-goal performance against UIC, was left isolated in the early going of the match due in part to the play of centerback Hilary Esangbedo.

“Their No. 4 was a beast,” Blazer said. “Thiago didn’t have any chances. That physical matchup was a lot.”

Although the result didn’t go the Blue Demons’ way, Blazer felt the performance from his squad was good.

“It’s hard to be the offensive team, but we pride ourselves on that,” Blazer said. “That’s what’s encouraging, but sometimes it just doesn’t go your way. Give Western credit, though. They’re big, strong, physical and play to their strengths. If they can score two goals on six chances, they’re going to have a good year.”

The men’s soccer team will next play host to Western Michigan Saturday at Wish Field. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m.