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DePaul men’s soccer wins home opener 1-0 vs. Utah Valley

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Art Garza, a senior forward, led the team last year with four goals. (Maggie Gallagher/The DePaulia)

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[dropcap]A[/dropcap]s Simon Megally was enrolled in classes throughout summer quarter, the midfielder spent his extra time on the turf of Wish Field with a group of yellow mannequins bunched together.  Megally, a sophomore, spent hours practicing free kicks and trying to score around the group of dummy defenders.

On Saturday afternoon, his practice paid off.

From 30 feet out, Megally hit the lone goal off a free kick for DePaul men’s soccer and the Blue Demons went on to win a 1-0 game against Utah Valley. The game, which was delayed an extra day due to weather, was DePaul’s home opener.

“It was farther than I usually practice them, but the goalie was a little farther right and I wanted to get it to the left side and see what happens,” Megally said. “It just dipped real hard in the end.”

The shot hit the cross bar and bounced off Utah Valley goalkeeper Collin Partee’s back. The goal was scored in the 63rd minute.

“Honestly when I hit it, I thought there was a chance (it would go in), but I thought it was a little high,” Megally said. “But I got enough spin to get it up and down.”

Before Megally’s goal, the game was hard-fought on both sides. Both teams were physical throughout with 21 fouls being called on Utah Valley and DePaul with 19.

DePaul (2-1) stuck it out, however, and earned their second straight victory.

“We should a lot of resolve and had good defending,” DePaul head coach Craig Blazer said. “I think after the frustration after we scored our goal, it definitely was a chippy game. I applaud our guys for keeping our cool and doing well with it.”

Utah Valley (1-1) had 11 shots with seven on goal, but DePaul goalkeeper Mack Robinson stopped all seven. The Blue Demons only allowed four shots in the second half, signifying an improved defense.

Blazer said that the group’s second win in a row helps the team learn about themselves and that they have a pretty determined group.

“We’re trying to be a new team,” Blazer said. “We’re trying to be consistent. We’re trying to do things the right way. Utah Valley is a very good team. They’re going to have a winning record. We know that we’re headed in the right direction with a result over a good team like that.”

The Blue Demons have struggled in recent years, going 5-11-2 last season and 4-10-3 the year before.  But the 2-1 start is the best DePaul has had since the 2011-2012 season, where they went 6-11-2.

Megally said that the way the game with Utah Valley played out showed that the team was getting better.

“The team is just coming together,” Megally said. “Last year, we were in that situation, leading with 25 to 30 minutes left and they probably would have gotten one. We would have gone to overtime and we maybe would have lost.

“But this year, everybody is coming together and everyone has each other’s back,” he said. “If one guy gets beat, the next guy is right there. It’s a team effort.”

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DePaul men’s soccer wins home opener 1-0 vs. Utah Valley