DePaul (6-5-1) defeated conference rival Seton Hall (3-8-1) by a score of 2-1 Saturday, ending their 3-match losing streak.
Before the match, DePaul was last place in the Big East with an 0-3-0 record despite holding second place in total goals within the conference.
Offense was a big part of the DePaul men’s early success. However, they have struggled to find the back of the net. In the first seven games before conference play, they outscored opponents 17-5, yet since conference play, they’ve been outscored 7-13. Despite their offensive struggles, the Blue Demons managed to net two goals Saturday.
Early in the match, Seton Hall controlled the field. The Pirates recorded five combined shots from leading scorer and sophomore midfielder Andres Ancila and sophomore midfielder Francisco Alderete before DePaul had their first shot at the 14th minute of the match.
On Seton Hall’s second shot of the game in the third minute of the match, junior goalkeeper Quentin Low pushed a ball out of the goal and kept the score even.
After the first 15 minutes, the Blue Demons found their footing and began to push back. A Pirates’ foul allowed set up a play that resulted in a DePaul goal scored by senior forward Erik Rodriguez. Freshman Zach El-Shafei lobbed the ball into the box and sophomore defender John Freitag tipped the ball for a Rodriguez tap in goal.
“Getting the early goal meant a lot to our confidence,” said coach Craig Blazer. “We knew it was going to be tough. Every game in the Big East is extremely challenging.”
However, in the 33rd minute of the first half, a DePaul foul inside their box set up Seton Hall’s Ancila with a free kick which he buried in the right side of the goal.
At the half, the score remained tied 1-1.
The second half began very back and forth with both teams alternating shots for the first 30 minutes of the half. Slowly, the Pirates began to take hold of the match.
From about the 74th minute to the 81st minute of the match, the Blue Demons were held inside their half of the field. Low had to make a big save from Pirates’ senior defender Shawn Morrison in order to keep the tie going.
DePaul began to finally counterattack after the heavy pressure from Seton Hall. In the 89th minute of the match, the Blue Demons had pushed up deep into Seton Hall’s territory. Junior midfielder Hans Wustling pushed inside the Pirates’ box and shot a ball that was saved with the outstretched arms of Seton Hall’s 6-foot-4 senior keeper Julian Spindler. However, the ball found Rodriguez on the other side of the net and he buried the ball, putting DePaul up 2-1 with less than two minutes left.
“(It was a) relief,” Rodriguez said. “We talked before the game and we knew if we wanted to even have a slight chance of making the Big East Tournament this was a must-win game, and we responded to that.”
At the end of the regular season, the top six Big East teams are invited to the Big East Tournament. Prior to the game, DePaul sat in last place with an 0-3 record in the conference. After the win against Seton Hall, DePaul moved up to eighth in the conference, still two games below the threshold and one game behind their next opponent, Georgetown.
“We’re finally in the race,” coach Craig Blazer said. “This time last year we were in the samw kind of situation … The guys are excited, and I know they can’t wait to get back on the field to get after it in the next game against Georgetown.”
The Blue Demons travel to Washington, D.C. Monday to play their next Big East game against Georgetown (3-7-1).