The men’s soccer game against the Cincinnati Bearcats Oct. 17 had all the makings of a dull match. It pitted two offensively challenged teams against one another on a windy, overcast afternoon with a steady drizzle from start to finish.
So of course, it was only natural that the two Big East rivals battled to a wild 3-3 draw.
In a game that can only be described as “crazy,” the two struggling squads played their hearts out in a thoroughly entertaining match.
Head coach Craig Blazer was impressed with his team’s effort. “We really competed. We came out, we played hard, and we were able to execute offensively. It was easily the best offensive performance we’ve had,” he said.
The start of the game was as fun as it was unexpected. By the end of the first half, Cincinnati (5-7-4, 2-2-2 Big East) held a 3-2 lead and both teams had combined for 13 shots. Incredibly, DePaul (3-9-3, 0-5-1 Big East) had only nine goals the entire season before this matchup, and Cincinnati had only eight.
In fact, the Bearcats were so bad on offense prior to this game that they hadn’t scored more than one goal in any match all season.
It didn’t seem to matter on this day, though, as the goals were fast and plentiful. DePaul scored first on a header by junior Brian Schultz just over two minutes into the game. Cincinnati countered with two goals in a span of 50 seconds. DePaul would tie it up, but the Bearcats scored again to take a 3-2 halftime lead.
In the second half, freshman Michael Kozielek scored his first career goal in the 62nd minute to tie the game. It was a thrill for Kozielek, who has battled through a tough first season.
“The ball came right to me with the goalie out of position. It was a perfect setup. Right place, right time,” Kozielek said.
The game went into overtime, where both teams had chances but failed to capitalize. The best opportunity came from senior Antonio Aguilar, who had two chances to put the game away for the Blue Demons. He took a shot that Taylor Hafling, the Cincinnati goalkeeper, blocked, but the ball was deflected right back to Aguilar. The midfielder blasted another shot, but it was deflected away from the net by a Bearcats defender.
With only a few games left in the regular season, the team was happy, even if a little dissatisfied, with the final result.
“We had a lot of good looks in the two overtimes. It was a fair result, even though we’re disappointed in not getting the win,” Blazer said.
“We’re disappointed. But we’re starting to connect finally as a team. It’s a little late in the season, but we’re starting at least. We just have to start ripping shots and keeping it on frame,” Kozielek said.
DePaul plays University of South Florida in a Big East matchup at Wish Field Oct. 26 to close out the season.