DePaul men’s soccer opens Big East slate with 3-1 win over Seton Hall

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It was a day full of European connections as Hans Wustling from Germany assisted three goals and Alessandro Thomas from Italy scored two, giving DePaul a 3-1 victory over Seton Hall.

This was the first conference win for DePaul as they opened up Big East play, improving their record to 1-0-0 in conference and 4-4-1 overall.

“When you play at home you have to win,” Head Coach Craig Blazer said. “It’s hard to find points anywhere and we took the maximum today.”

DePaul got off to a great start as they gained an early lead. In the third minute, freshman midfielder Hans Wustling sent in a cross that was headed into the net by sophomore midfielder Simon Megally. It was Megally’s fourth of the year and Wustling’s second assist as DePaul went up 1-0.

Seton Hall almost equalized a few minutes later when freshman defender Lukas Pangonis stole the ball off a DePaul defensive miscue and fired a shot from the top of the box towards the far post. Junior keeper Mack Robinson was able to stretch and deny the goal, sending it out of bounce with a block. Pangonis was given another opportunity to score off the corner when he rocketed a half-volley towards goal, but Robinson was there to save it again.

DePaul gave themselves some breathing room in the 13th minute with another goal involving Megally. After dribbling himself around the defense and into position at the top of the box, Megally chipped a pass behind the defense to freshman forward Alessandro Thomas, who slotted it home for his first score as a Blue Demon.

The Blue Demons almost made it 3-0 in the 25th minute when Art Garza was on the other end of a low cross across the face of goal but he mishit the ball and it went off the crossbar and was eventually cleared away by the Pirates.

Five minutes later, however, DePaul did increase their lead to three goals. Senior forward Art Garza sent in a low ball across the face of goal, where Thomas was there to tap the ball in for his second goal of the day. With sixty minutes to play, DePaul had a three-goal cushion and were well on their way to opening up their Big East slate with a win.

“It was just a great combination of plays starting all the way back at our defense,” Thomas said.  “Collectively, as a team that play was just a perfect play.”

The Blue Demons would carry that lead into the locker rooms, up 3-0 at halftime.

The second half would not feature as many offensive moments but DePaul was still firmly in control of the match. They held Seton Hall without a shot on goal for the last 30 minutes of the game, until literally the last possible minute.

Seton Hall was able to break the shutout with six seconds to go. Shu Kai Greene was able to put away a ball that had been bounced around the box following a set piece to give the Pirates a consolation goal. The Blue Demons were able to claim the victory right after they kicked off, winning the match 3-1.

Thomas said after the game that, following the 1-7-1 performance in Big East play last year, DePaul had to come out strong in this match.

“We knew coming into this we had to make a statement and we did that,” Thomas said.

With the freshmen Wustling and Thomas having big games, the young players have already started to make an impact on the team.

“We are family and that’s not like it is in Germany,” Wustling said. “I feel very comfortable here. It’s a really good chemistry.”

Blazer said after the game that starting off the Big East schedule with this team gave the team a blank sheet to work with.

“(The team) has been disappointed with the results in the past two games,” he said.  “We knew that this was a new season the Big East season and the guys showed a lot of maturity.”

As the season hits its most important part with qualifying for the Big East tournament coming throughout the next few weeks, Blazer is excited about the team’s improvement.

“The guys believe in what they’re doing and we’re really excited that they keep responding,” he said.