Anderson breaks team scoring drought in 1-1 draw with Hoyas


Donald Crocker

Senior midfielder Michael Anderson (25) celebrates his early goal from a corner kick goal assisted by teammate Omar Ramadan (6) in the first half against Georgetown on Oct. 8.

Against a perennial Big East power like the Georgetown Hoyas, playing an organized game is crucial to keeping your team in it. 

That was the goal for DePaul on Saturday, who played host to their conference foe on a sunny afternoon at Wish Field. The Hoyas, who played in last year’s Division I NCAA Soccer final four, are always loaded with talent, making it even more vital for opponents to play a clean game.

On Saturday, DePaul kept things tidy, holding Georgetown to a 1-1 draw.

“They’re a great team, and there’s a reason why they were in the final four last year and win the league just about every year,” said DePaul Head Coach Mark Plotkin. “We told the team we’re just going to have to be organized defensively and create our moments.”

While Georgetown bested DePaul in possession and regularly got the ball into the Demons’ defensive third, significant chances against DePaul’s backline were a rarity. The Hoyas recorded 16 shots on Saturday, but only six were on goal. Of those six, only a couple could be deemed genuine chances at goal.

Perhaps the most substantial feat of Saturday’s match was DePaul’s ability to finally get the ball in the back of the net. The Demons had not scored in 17 days against three separate opponents before finally grabbing a quick goal against Georgetown.

After securing an early corner kick, DePaul senior midfielder Michael Anderson made a run from the back post towards a low ball delivered from junior midfielder Omar Ramadan. The 6’1” Anderson beat defenders to the cross and fired a strong header inside the near post, giving his team a 1-0 lead in the game’s third minute.

“It’s all about the service,” Anderson said. “Omar [Ramadan] gives a great ball every time, so it’s just about that little nod into the back of the net.” 

Graduate left-back Jake Fuderer cuts up field in the second half against Georgetown on Oct. 8. (Donald Crocker)

After a noteworthy goal drought, Anderson was satisfied to get his team back in the scoring column.

“We hadn’t scored in the past three games,” Anderson said. “It definitely felt good to get that early goal to get our legs moving again and get back on the scoring train.” 

While Anderson’s second goal of the season was a nice early highlight, the stars of Saturday’s matchup were DePaul’s back four.

Time and again, DePaul’s backs were able to get a foot or body in the way of the Hoya’s efforts on goal. Georgetown instituted some quick build-up in the first half, attempting to send long balls behind DePaul’s back line. Whether it was with the speed of senior right-back David Gripman or the physicality of senior center-back Grant Herbek, DePaul defenders repeatedly got in the way of Georgetown’s chances.

“They had shots, but they were taking them from outside the box,” Herbek said. “I feel like as [the season] goes on… the defense is looking more and more well-rounded.”

Herbek played like a true anchor on Saturday, leading DePaul’s defense and keeping things cohesive against a talented Hoya squad. The center-back blocked a few shots and defended physically, even taking a knock in the head from a Georgetown forward in the second half.

“It was physical for sure, but all these games are,” Herbek said. “A little bloody nose never hurt nobody.”

Herbek only left momentarily after the collision and ended up playing 88 of the 90 minutes in Saturday’s game. 

While DePaul played a stellar game defensively, the squad as a whole made several mistakes, particularly in the second half.   

Against Georgetown’s relentless high pressure, the Demons made repeated mistakes with possession in the middle third of the field.

In the game’s 47th minute, errors like these finally gave way to a Hoya goal. Georgetown junior forward Marlon Tabora took advantage of DePaul’s sloppy play and secured possession down the left side for a breakaway, beating sophomore goalkeeper Ghandi Cruz with a chip shot over Cruz’s head to tie the game at 1-1.

The goal proved to be the only time Georgetown could beat Cruz and DePaul’s back four, as the Blue Demons went back to stifling the Hoya attack. For the remainder of play, DePaul made continued impressive efforts on defense, including an athletic diving save by Cruz in the 79th minute to keep the score knotted up.

“Gandhi [Cruz] made a couple of great saves to keep us in the game, but other than that, their chances came pretty few and far between,” Herbek said. 

Herbek’s head coach echoed praises of DePaul’s defensive efforts in Saturday’s draw. 

“I’m proud of our guys for stepping up and executing our way,” Plotkin said. “As a whole, we defended as a unit. It wasn’t just one guy doing everything. I’m proud of how compact, organized, and disciplined we were everywhere.”

DePaul (3-3-5, 0-1-3) will look to clean up mistakes and keep the goal-scoring going as they travel to Queens, New York, for a matchup with St. Johns (3-6-3, 1-2-2) on Wednesday. Following the matchup with the Red Storm, they will return home to Wish for a Matchup with conference leader Xavier (8-0-4, 2-0-3) on Saturday, Oct 15.

“We’ve figured out how to use our rotation, and now it’s just continuing to build that chemistry in the final third,” Plotkin said. “The hardest thing to do is score goals, and we just have to keep going after it.”