Men's Soccer: Spring Game Report vs. DePaul
April 17, 2012
MILWAUKEE - The Panthers have six games scheduled for the spring season, which began on April 1. Assistant coach Ben Shepherd will again take time to report on how each match went.
Friday night saw the team back under the lights of Engelmann Stadium, which represents such a unique atmosphere that everyone was ready to play and put on a good performance against a solid DePaul team from the Big East who made their conference playoffs this year. We were well aware that it would be a stern test.
Again, there was a healthy crowd in attendance, especially for a spring game, and it was good to see so many people coming out in support of the players which really was appreciated.
Since the Northwestern game (our spring opener), we were able to have 12 days to prepare and really work on certain aspects of our play which needed improvement, and the players responded well to a few new ideas and worked hard during this time to get ready for the game. The game started at a fast pace and we had some good spells of possession. Although at times we gave the ball away too often after transition and didn't connect with our first pass, which is something that we stress as a team.
DePaul, like any Big East Team, was well organized and and looked to counter quickly and capitalize on any mistake that we made by playing balls in behind us. On the whole, I thought we dealt with quite well. From the midpoint of the half I thought we really began to get a hold of the game and our midfield three of Jamie Bladen, Alex Megna and Laurie Bell began to take control. We started to play our possession based free-flowing game which we have been working on.
We went close through Laurie Bell, Cody Banks and Robbie Boyd without really testing DePaul's keeper enough and then one lapse of concentration at the back allowed a DePaul forward to be through on goal and he coolly slotted home from 12 yards out which meant we went in at half-time trailing 1-0; somewhat undeserved.
At halftime, we talked about keeping our belief and sticking to our way of playing and that the chances would come and early in the second half after a good spell of play, Robbie Boyd was played through on goal and was brought down just outside the box, which resulted in a free kick and red card and Cody Banks stepped up to bend a free kick over the wall and into the bottom corner to get us back on level terms.
With it being a spring game, both coaching staffs thought it was appropriate for DePaul to still play with 11 men to keep it a competitive game.
From this point on, as a team, I really felt we played well and passed the ball as well as we have for a long time. After a sequence of over 20 passes, Robbie Boyd nutmegged his defender on the end-line and put in a great cross which Cody Banks hammered home from 8 yards out to put us 2-1 ahead.
With around 15 minutes left, a clash of heads with a DePaul player left Adam Hutchinson requiring treatment which would later require stitches but he returned to the fray, head bandaged, although the boys said the look did nothing for his modeling career!!
With just under 10 minutes remaining, after defending a set-piece in our own box the ball broke for Jamie Ashcroft to burst forward on a counter attack reminding us of his supposed center forward days as a Youth Player and he played a good ball into Laurie Bell who found Kyle Neumann running in the left channel who fired across goal for Kevin Ferron to slide home after running fully 70 yards to get into the box to make the final score 3-1.
There were a lot of positives to come from the game and the win was well deserved for the boys, but more importantly was our overall performance as we tried to play good soccer and continued to work for one another. The starting line-up consisted of six freshman, and five of the starters were from Wisconsin with seven in total contributing to the win which was pleasing to see.
As a team, we played well and there were also some notable performances from individuals; Jamie Bladen for me had his best game in Milwaukee colors and looked the best player on the pitch, Cody Banks scored his two goals but his all round game was just as important and he was prepared to work for the team and put DePaul's defence under pressure especially in the second half which was pleasing and Kyle Neumann came off the bench and was able to impact the game and showed that he is listening, improving and developing as a player.
Again, the players would like to thank all those that showed up to the game and we look forward to seeing you this Wednesday when we play Cardinal Stritch in a 7 p.m. match up and hopefully we can get another good result and continue to take positive steps forward.