DePaul 1-1 Drake (2OT): Own goal cancels Aguilar’s opener

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Two periods of golden goal overtime weren’t enough to decide a winner as the men’s soccer team drew 1-1 with Drake at Wish Field Wednesday afternoon.

Antonio Aguilar capped off an impressive opening spell for the Blue Demons (2-4-1) with his second goal of the season in the 4th minute. Collecting the ball, Aguilar took a few touches past a Drake defender before using his pace around the edge of the area to penetrate into the 18-yard box. From six yards out, Aguilar fired with his preferred left foot to the far post, hitting the side netting to give DePaul the lead.

“The coaches always tell us we have to use our speed to beat players down the line,” the senior said. “I kept going to the side until I saw an opening and then shot it as the keeper stepped out.”

The Bulldogs (1-6-2) would equalize seven minutes later by way of an own goal. A cross by Kyle Whigham curled inside the DePaul area before hitting off Joe Brinckwirth as he dropped back to cover his marker in the 11th minute.

“It was a lapse of concentration on our part,”head coach Craig Blazer said of the own goal. “The first 15 minutes we played very well. We took a lot of momentum from the goal we scored against Ohio State (a 2-1 loss) and scored a good one today.”

Statistically, the Blue Demons dominated the match, outshooting Drake 21-to-9 and forcing Bulldogs keeper Rich Gallagher to make six saves -one of which was a tip on a point-blank blast from Anthony Hunter. Meanwhile, Eric Sorby was forced into making just one save, which didn’t come until the 105th minute.

The Blue Demons nearly nicked the winner in the dying seconds of the second half through Aguilar. Michael Kozielek’s cross from the left side of the pitch made its way towards Drew Dempsey, who subsequently knocked it down for Aguilar to take. Taking a touch, Aguilar ripped towards Gallagher’s goal only for the ball to smack the crossbar.

“Devastated,”Aguilar said of the late effort. “I lifted my head in time to see it scrape the crossbar. That was unlucky.”

DePaul might have had a bit of fortune of their own in the first five minutes of extra time. After an Austin Toth shot was blocked, Drake forward Brian Grand slipped past Jared Blincow before having a 1v1 opportunity with Sorby. After rounding the keeper, Grand was taken down by Sorby in the area without getting a touch on the ball. No penalty or sending off was given, however, despite the objections of the Bulldogs.

Although the men’s soccer team had the lion’s share of possession in the match, spending the majority of both halves and the extra periods in Drake’s end of the pitch, the team failed to create quality goal-scoring chances, according to Blazer, opting instead for long-range efforts that seldom threatened by Gallagher.

“We want to possess the ball but it’s got to lead to shots, crosses and goals,”Blazer said. “We’ve made significant improvements today in those fields, but we’re still disappointed we didn’t get the win. But we’re on the right track.”

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The Return of Ray De Leon

DePaul got a boost with the return of Ray De Leon for the second straight match. First returning against Ohio State, De Leon got the start today in the middle of the pitch having missed the vast majority of last season with injury.

“It’s like I was telling a lot of faculty here, I feel really blessed to be back,”De Leon said. “When I got the news over the summer that I needed surgery, that was hard. I have to thank the doctors and surgeons who put so much time and energy to help me get back and keep me positive.

“Injured life is tough,”he added. “It’s good to be back.”

De Leon started the match and played 65 minutes, having four total shots and hitting the target once. Before he can fully return, however, the coaching staff will limit his time and allow him to slowly get back to get in touch with the pace of the game.

“Ray is a very good player -everyone can see that,”Blazer said. “He makes us go, but we’ve got to make sense with his progression back in.”

Although De Leon stated he’d like to be playing more, he understands the need to bring him in slowly.

“It’s tough to say when I’ll be fully back given the schedule I’m on,”he said. “I have training and games, and then I have rehab to strengthen my leg.

“It’s one thing to come out here and do fitness tests, but it’s another thing to get match fitness,”De Leon added. “I’ll only get back by playing more.”

The men’s soccer team next heads up north to rivals Marquette to open up Big East play Friday night. Kickoff is schedule for 7:05 p.m.

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NOTES:

Four players from the Blue Demons played the entire 110 minutes of the match: Aguilar, Blincow, Jalen Harvey and Brian Hindle.

Harvey and Toth switched positions for this match, with Toth occupying the leftback position and Harvey taking Toth’s place at centerback.

Each team picked up a pair of bookings, while Drake out-fouled DePaul 16-13.