Men’s soccer happy to be outside

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Sophomore midfielder Philipp Koenigstein chases a ball in a 2015 match. (Josh Leff / The DePaulia)

Sophomore midfielder Philipp Koenigstein chases a ball in a 2015 match. (Josh Leff / The DePaulia)

After being cooped up indoors training since their season ended in early November, the men’s soccer team is back at Wish Field.

The first weekend of April they traveled to South Bend, Indiana to play a pair of games back-to-back against Notre Dame and Valparaiso. They fell 1-0 to the Fighting Irish in the first match and bounced back to draw the second against the Crusaders 2-2 with Kevin Beyer and John Freitag scoring the goals.

“It’s nice to get out on the field finally after the winter when you’re in the gym a lot or the indoor facilities,” Beyer said.

Goalkeeper Quentin Low, taking over for the graduating Mack Robinson, had his first couple of games as the official No. 1 for the team and chalked up the loss and draw to minor mistakes the team can easily work on for the future.

“After our first two results, conceding goals off set pieces, that’s something we weren’t sharp on,” Low said. “That’s something we worked on this week to prevent from happening again.”

Though the results don’t appear favorable for the Blue Demons on paper, losing 1-0 to Notre Dame on their home field is impressive considering the Fighting Irish finished last season with an 11-5-6 record and lost 2-1 to Maryland in the NCAA Championship Round of 16. Valparaiso beat three ranked opponents last season, two on the road, so a draw against the Crusaders is positive, too.

The results show optimism for a DePaul team that has progressed slowly over the past few seasons. Having lost Robinson and Jalen Harvey to graduation, the Blue Demons retain the core squad that was gradually improving as the season went on.

“We’re really excited,” Beyer said. “The team chemistry is awesome and everyone is definitely getting along really well because it’s the same team basically,”

“We’re excited to get the new guys in this summer and make sure we get all of them acclimated to DePaul and get ready for next year.”

The incoming crop of seven freshmen will add depth to all positions on the team. The big signing came after the initial recruiting class was announced when the Blue Demons snagged 6-foot-5, 200-pound defender Max de Bruijne from AFC Amsterdam, where he captained the team and led the league in scoring the last three seasons.

“(The freshmen are) going to add enthusiasm and excitement and their soccer abilities are good,” head coach Craig Blazer said. “We’re in need of bodies and we welcome them and they bring a different skillset that we’re looking for in positions that we need.”

The team plays Northwestern in Rockford, Illinois on April 9, a team to be announced at Northwestern on April 23 and the University of Chicago at their home field on May 8 in what is dubbed the Chicago Cup. Blazer and the team seem optimistic about next season already and some positive results in the Chicago Cup will only help.

“We’ve got an exciting group and we’re developing all of the components that brought these guys some momentum and some positive results from the Big East season, so it’s really encouraging,” Blazer said. “I think these guys feel like we’re heading in the right direction and us coaches feel the same.

“I think it’s going to lead to a successful fall.”