Goalkeepers stand tall in DePaul men’s soccer 0-0 tie with Butler


Maddy Maes/The DePaulia

Two DePaul soccer players argue a yellow card decision on Sunday at Wish Field.

It was a battle of the goalkeepers as DePaul men’s soccer took on Butler University for their penultimate game of the season at Wish Field.  After 110 minutes, nothing got past either one of them, with the game ending in a 0-0 tie.

The Blue Demons entered the game coming off a big 3-2 win over Villanova University in overtime on Oct. 20 and were looking to get another win as they make a push for the Big East playoffs.

Butler was also coming off a game that needed double overtime, with the Bulldogs coming away with a 2-1 victory over Marquette on the same day. 

One the paper, Butler looked like the better team. The Bulldogs peppered DePaul’s net all game long, attempting 20 shots and forcing goalkeeper Gandhi Cruz to make eight saves. The Blue Demons’ offense, on the other hand, had 10 shots. 

The game was well-balanced from the beginning, with both defenses standing strong in the opening minutes. However, Butler challenged the Blue Demons and Cruz more and racked up five shots before DePaul had one.

The first real action that Butler’s goalkeeper Gabriel Gjerji saw from the Blue Demons was off a corner kick from senior forward Jake Fuderer. The Blue Demons registered their first two shots of the game and had some big chances on the play, but the Bulldogs were able to clear it away from their goal.

The first half concluded in a flurry of action, with yellow cards given to midfielder Jacob Seeto, forward David Gripman and forward Santiago Rodriguez.

The second half began with three DePaul corner kicks in a row that kept deflecting out of play, but the Blue Demons were never able to land one in the back of the Bulldog’s net.

Butler had a few corner kicks of their own that the Blue Demons defended before DePaul had a corner kick that nearly led to the first goal of the game but instead bounced off the post. 

While there were no goals being scored, the action was not lacking from either side. The shots were constant, and both goalkeepers worked hard to stave off the first goal of the game.  

“It was definitely tough just because you have to work a little bit more, especially as a goalkeeper,” Cruz said. “I think it gets the nerves going a little bit and it’s just a fun experience just because of the fact that we’re actually getting action.”

Both teams were physical in the first half and that pattern only escalated in the second. 

Following the three DePaul yellow cards that were administered at the end of the first half, Butler received one of its own before forward Jack Richards received the Blue Demons’ fourth yellow card of the game.

“It’s just chippy back and forth, especially these Big East games,” Richards said. “You sometimes got to leave some of the calls up to the ref and some of them went our way and some of them didn’t, so [we] just got to keep going forward.”

Midfielder Michael Anderson later received the Blue Demons’ fifth yellow card with six minutes left in the half after taking down a Butler player.

Just as in each team’s previous game, overtime was needed yet again. The Blue Demons controlled the 10-minute period and had many close opportunities, with a notable chance early from midfielder Patrick Watkins that clanged off the Butler crossbar.

One overtime was not enough, though, and the game required a second overtime.

Butler was more dominant in those 10 minutes, but Cruz stood tall and kept the Bulldogs from scoring a last-minute goal to win the game. 

“I thought we played well enough to win and kind of came across unlucky hitting two posts and a crossbar and I thought we created some great chances and especially in the second half and in the overtime our guys played fantastic,” head coach Mark Plotkin said. “I couldn’t be [happier] of it. Wish we could have gotten one over the line, but it was just kind of one of those days.”

DePaul now has a record of 7-6-2 and 3-3-2 in conference play. The team remains in sixth place in the Big East standings with 11 points. 

The Blue Demons return to Wish Field again next Saturday to take on St. John’s University for their last home game before traveling to Xavier University on Nov. 3 to close out the regular season.