DePaul rebounds from loss to Oakland with shutout win


Freshman forward Jake Fuderer recorded his first assist of the season for DePaul after also notching one in an exhibition win over EIU. Photo courtesy of DePaul athletics.

After a disappointing performance loss against Oakland Friday afternoon, DePaul bounced back Sunday with a 3-0 win over Loyola Marymount Sunday at Wish Field.

Two days after allowing a pair of goals within a minute in a 2-1 loss to Oakland, DePaul head coach Mark Plotkin said the focus was to return to their defense first mentality and allow the offense to come off forcing turnovers. The results were exactly what Plotkin was hoping for as the Blue Demons secured their second shutout in four games.

“I thought the guys were fantastic today, on the ball, off the ball particularly the defensive side of things I couldn’t have been more proud of just their full performance,” Plotkin said. “After the game on Friday we were pretty disappointed with our whole performance so we just kind of went back to the drawing board and said let’s get back to kind of who we are as a team and the culture, and that’s a defensive first mentality.”

The first half did not offer much in many opportunities for either side as the Blue Demons record the only two shots on goal.

Less than two minutes into the second half, however, sophomore Isaac Friendt opened the scoring for DePaul finishing off a cross from senior Harry Hilling. The sophomore said as he saw the ball get switched over to Hilling, he knew his job was to get to the middle of the box and be ready for the cross that soon came his way.

“I had figured he would be able to end up down the line like that,” Friendt said. “So my job as a forward is to end up in the box where he can play me something simple to finish. He did all the hard work and I was just there to tap it in, it was nice.”

The Blue Demons kept up the pressure and added a second just 10 minutes later on a header by sophomore midfielder Istvan Wilhelms off another cross from freshman Jake Fuderer. While adding the second goal to put pressure on the visitors was nice, Plotkin was equally pleased his team held the Lions off the scoresheet for the full 90 minutes.

“Putting two goals in and having a team try to battle back from that it gives you a little bit of sense of security,” Plotkin said. “But we preach to our guys that we always want the shutout and no matter what where it’s 2-0, 3-0 we just wanted to finish it out because it’s kind of a new mentality for us just to close things out and keep a zero.”

With time winding down and the Blue Demons controlling possession, senior Bryan Simons capped the day off with a goal that had even his teammates and coaches scratching their heads as to how he managed to single-handedly find his way into the box after intercepting a pass near midfield. After spinning to his right, Simons slid an off-balance shot past LMU goalkeeper Paul Lewis.

“That was just really awesome,” Hilling said. “Bryan is one of my roommates and just seeing him single-handedly pick off the ball and just somehow chug his way to the top of the 18, inside the 18 and just finish it right in the corner, it was awesome I was kind of stunned myself but it was really cool.”

While the goals brought a big smile to Plotkin’s face, he said rebounding from a loss to Oakland started with focusing on the defensive end.

“I think we just kind of went back to the basics,” Plotkin said. “I almost took it on myself just that we talked a little bit too much about some of the offensive tactical things we have been speaking about. I talked them and said let’s just focus on defending have a great defensive effort and a lot of the attacking stuff will come from there and thankfully it did today. They were fantastic.”

With just two games left against Drake and UIC before beginning conference play a week from Friday, Hilling feels the team is trending in the right direction on both ends.

“We’re on the right path,” Hilling said. “Everyone’s starting to buy in more defensively the coaches are talking to us off to the side about where we should pay closer attention to defensively to keep the zero. Then offensively we’re just starting to hit our stride now getting some rhythm going offensively and putting some balls in the back of the net so I’m looking forward to conference play starting up soon.”

Plotkin added wins like Sunday where they had to bounce back from a disappointing loss are good lessons to learn at this point in the season and also the mark of a good team that they can take with them beginning with Drake on Friday.

The Blue Demons visit Drake Friday at 7 p.m CT on Friday before returning home to face UIC next Tuesday.