DePaul 0-1 Western Michigan: Men’s soccer lets one slip

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A Darren Jones free kick from 32 yards out was the lone goal as the men’s soccer team fell 1-0 Saturday to Western Michigan.

Jones’ dipping free kick – coming in the 71st minute – was hit to goalkeeper Eric Sorby’s near post. The junior had slotted over to catch the effort, however the ball slipped through his hands. A last-ditch effort as he was falling back was not enough to keep the ball out of the net.

That goal was enough for the visiting Broncos (4-0-0) to see off the Blue Demons (1-2-0), who lost their second straight match at home.

In a game of few chances, it was the high-line and off-the-ball pressure employed by Western Michigan that made the difference, according to head coach Craig Blazer.

“You can see that Western is a very good team,” Blazer said. “They put a lot of pressure on us. We made one goalkeeping mistake, however the keeper and backline played very well.”

Offensively, the Blue Demons couldn’t get much going, mustering only two shots in the 90 minutes through Jake Douglas and Michael Kozielek. Neither effort managed to hit the target.

Meanwhile, the DePaul backline – anchored by centerbacks Austin Toth and Jared Blincow – often broke up play and forced the Broncos into shots from distance. Only three of Western Michigan’s 13 efforts were on target, one of which was Jones’ goal.

“The challenge for us is to get more out of our attack when our defense is playing well,” Blazer said. “(The backline) were never able to relax today. We kept giving the ball away. Despite some good spells, we were the ones under pressure.”

The “good spells” Blazer referred to were the opening five minutes of each half and the final 10 of the first. In those moments, the Blue Demons pushed high up the pitch and combined nicely, but weren’t able to create quality goal-scoring opportunities.

“Western ran a lot and put us under pressure,” Blazer said. “You could see they got tired at times, but the final bit wasn’t there. When you don’t have the final bit, you don’t get corners and free kicks that add up in a game.”

Chances in the rest of the first half were even fewer for both sides. The best chance of the half came from Western Michigan’s Jason Grant in the 28th minute. Grant picked up a loose ball on the edge of the area before firing a thunderous shot with his left that narrowly missed the crossbar.

Although the team created little, Blazer was happy with the performance of his backline despite the 1-0 score line.

“We’re not faulting Eric (Sorby),” he said. “It was a collective team effort and we should have done more with our chances.”

The men’s soccer team now heads off to take on SIU-Edwardsville Sept. 7 before returning to Wish Field to take on Red Line rivals Loyola Sept. 11.

NOTES

DePaul started three freshmen in Kozielek, Drew Dempsey and Brian Hindle. “They played well, but we needed our older guys to step up,” Blazer said.

The Blue Demons were without forward Thiago Ganancio, who picked up a knock in the loss to Western Illinois.

There were two yellow card cautions issued in the match. Antonio Aguilar picked one up in the opening minutes of the second half for a hard challenge on Yllson Asani, who was later booked for a late challenge on Douglas.
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