The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

DePaul Men’s Soccer finishes spring season on high note, looks forward to fall

DePaul+sophomore+forward+Liam+Mullins+battles+for+control+of+the+soccer+ball+against+NIU+on+Saturday%2C+April+13%2C+2024%2C+at+Wish+Field.+Mullins+scored+over+100+points+in+his+high+school+career.
Sonia Puri
DePaul sophomore forward Liam Mullins battles for control of the soccer ball against NIU on Saturday, April 13, 2024, at Wish Field. Mullins scored over 100 points in his high school career.

Following the win of the Chicago Cup, DePaul Men’s Soccer has completed its spring season with high hopes for the fall. With a new team dynamic and back-to-back victories, the Blue Demons found themselves in a positive standing for the school year’s finale. 

“We can take on anyone,” said Ethan Gordon, sophomore captain for the team, following the first victory of the cup versus Northern Illinois, which DePaul won 3-1. 

The Chicago Cup is a tournament for D1 men’s soccer programs at colleges in the Chicagoland area. Winners of the cup can consider themselves the best in the city. Although the tournament is strictly an exhibition, coaches take it seriously and use it to showcase their team’s strengths.

Junior goalkeeper Clayton Brooks, right, shakes hands with a teammate after finishing a game against NIU on Saturday, April 13, 2024, at Wish Field. Brooks is a graduate of Saint Xavier High School.
Photo by Sonia Puri

The team advanced to the next chapter of their spring season story to face Northwestern, which – despite home-field advantage – lost to the Blue Demons 2-1. 

“After (the cup), we can feel pretty confident going into the fall season,” Callum Watts, a junior center-fielder for the Blue Demons, said, foreshadowing the final win of the spring versus UIC. This was the second year in a row that the DePaul men’s team has won the Chicago Cup.

For soccer, the spring season equals a time of adjustment, transition and adaptation. 

“The team’s main focus has been preparing for the fall season,” head coach Mark Plotkin said.

Behind the scenes, the Blue Demons integrated new players during the winter, filling in the holes where players have transferred or where senior players will inevitably move on from.

“We’ve been out here (training) since January,” Plotkin said. “They’re really starting to see the fruits of their labor.”

DePaul redshirt sophomore Christian Baumgartner controls the ball as the CTA brown line passes by on Saturday, April 13, 2024, at Wish Field. Baumgartner’s previous school was Kentucky.
Photo by Sonia Puri

Plotkin talked about the winter training season as a chance for the team to get to know each other as players before the spring season began. According to Plotkin, the team “gelled” together and came out on the other side closer than ever. 

“I’ve been so proud of their growth and how tight they all are,” he said. 

Plotkin said the team’s closeness on and off the field shows in each game, with more experienced players welcoming and bonding with newer players – and helping one another through hardships. 

 Gordon, the captain who plays center-back, described the team’s current state as “forward-looking.”

“Players in their fourth and fifth years are like family,” he said. “But we’ve built off of the new players. They’ve stepped right up to it.”

Sophomore Blue Demon Noeh Hernandez leaps a defender during DePaul’s match against NIU on Saturday, April 13, 2024, at Wish Field. Hernandez plays as a forward for DePaul.
Photo by Sonia Puri

As a captain with approaching seniority on the team, the struggle and uncertainty of how new players would take to the team was at the forefront of their minds, but with the proof in their wins, Gordon seems to be proud of their accomplishments.

“I think this spring was a huge stepping point for the team as a whole,” Gordon added, after the team took home the cup. “What we’ve been doing works.”

According to Plotkin, the final game of the cup was won with a different set of players than their usual lineup. With several teammates experiencing injuries, lineups changed and allowed for newer players to get a chance on the field. Even with the new dynamic, the team still came out on top. 

With a second win of the Chicago Cup in the books, the fall season for the Blue Demons is bright. 

“If you were to have drawn up how we wanted this spring season to go, this is exactly how we would have planned it,” Plotkin said.

 

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