Men’s Soccer Overcomes DePaul 4-2 in Hard-fought Red Line Rivalry Match

Men’s soccer defeated their Red Line Rival DePaul 4-2 in a hardfought match. 

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On a dark and rainy afternoon, the Loyola men’s soccer team made the trip to DePaul University’s Wish Field where they defeated their Red Line Rival Blue Demons 4-2 Tuesday in a hard-fought, physical match. 

With their victory Tuesday, Loyola built upon their success, ending a string of away games 3-0 after defeating Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis 5-0 Sept. 12 and George Washington University 2-0 Sept. 16. The Ramblers record was sitting at 4-1-1 entering play against DePaul.

The Blue Demons came into the annual Red Line Rivalry game 1-3-2 on the year fresh off a 4-1 defeat against Xavier University. Before Tuesday’s contest Loyola led the head-to-head matchup 6-3-5. 

The game, which was chippy throughout, began with a near immediate foul called against fifth-year DePaul defender Grant Herbek who knocked Rambler fourth-year forward Oscar Dueso to the ground. 

In the early minutes, DePaul dictated the flow of the game as a foul by first-year defender Noel Hannson set the Blue Demons and first-year forward Noeh Hernandez up for a free kick. Hernandez just missed on the kick as he hit the post giving Loyola a break and allowing Hannson to clear the ball out.

Loyola moved down field quickly, creating an opportunity of their own minutes later. A DePaul hand ball in the goal box set up fifth-year midfielder Marc Torrellas with a penalty kick in the eighth minute. In the one-on-one matchup, where split-second reactions mean everything, DePaul goalkeeper Gandhi Cruz came out on top as he made a diving stop and bailed the Blue Demons out of an early jam.

Loyola had another opportunity to open scoring in the 11th minute when third-year forward John Gates found Torrellas open for a shot which he missed wide left. A foul called on fourth-year midfielder Jason Ybarra set up a free kick for first-year Blue Demon midfielder Jordan Clagette.

Second-year defender Ethan Gordon, first-year defender Christian Baumgartner and fifth-year midfielder Michael Anderson headed the ball off the cross in succession. Anderson was able to head it into the back of the net, giving DePaul the lead in the 13th minute. 

Loyola responded with several pushes downfield but couldn’t convert on a goal despite a near miss on a header by Dueso. 

The game became increasingly physical as it progressed —  yellow cards were called on the Blue Demons in the 24th and 30th minutes. Loyola finished the match with nine fouls while DePaul’s final tally was 10. There were a total of six yellow cards called throughout the game. 

In the 26th minute Markus Maurer, fifth-year midfielder, got Loyola on the board after he headed a cross from Gates past Cruz to tie the game up at one a piece. 

DePaul responded quickly when Baumgartner sunk one in the net off a corner kick in the 31st minute. Hernandez was credited with an assist on the play, helping put the Blue Demons back on top. 

Gates and the Ramblers offense moved quickly to try and tie the game again. In the 33rd minute a strong shot by Gates was deflected by the DePaul defense. As DePaul moved back towards midfield following the shot, third-year defender Lukas Ender was hurt in a physical play involving him and fourth-year Blue Demon defender Marek Gonda.

The Loyola trainer had to enter the field of play to tend to Ender who was down on the ground. Gonda, who had been charged with a yellow card earlier in the game, came up to where Ender was lying where he was pushed away by fourth-year defender Julian Cisneros, who was later charged with a yellow card. 

Members of both teams then exchanged words and shoves which resulted in a red card being called on Gonda for unsporting behavior. He was ejected from the game and the Blue Demons were forced to play with just 10 players for the rest of the match. 

An animated Gonda and DePaul coaching staff vehemently protested the call, leading the refs to assign another yellow to the Blue Demon bench. It took several minutes before play resumed with DePaul down a man. 

Loyola immediately took advantage and put the pressure on the outnumbered DePaul defense but couldn’t capitalize on several scoring opportunities, including a shot by Torrellas which was too strong and soared a few feet over the crossbar.

The Ramblers made it work in the 41st minute when first-year forward Petar Janjic found the back of the net, scoring his fourth goal of the season off an assist by first-year forward Ethan Young. Janjic — who won Atlantic-10 rookie of the week honors for the week of Sept. 11-17 — said it was a great feeling to come off the bench and score in front of his family who were in attendance. 

“My coaches have really pushed me in whatever role I take to make an impact on the game, and obviously it’s all about the team so whatever I can do to help the team, I’m willing to do it,” he said.

Loyola had multiple attempts in the final minutes of the half but were silenced by Cruz who made a diving stop on another opportunity by Janjic in the 44th minute sending the teams to the locker rooms tied at two. 

The game wasn’t tied for long as the Ramblers wasted no time coming out of the second half and took a 3-2 lead when Gates reared back and powered the ball past Cruz just over 30 seconds after kick off. 

Gates said the team’s goal is to come out of the half strong every game, and he was happy he was able to deliver.

“We felt we kind of came out in the first half kind of stagnant so in the second half, it was all just about coming out and getting a goal quick and putting them on their heels, especially with the red card,” Gates said.

Loyola was in near-total control in the second half, punishing DePaul who was still playing with just 10 players. Torrellas took a good shot but missed wide in the 49th minute and then had another shot blocked by a defender in the 53rd.

after DePaul attempted to move downfield, Ramblers goalkeeper Aidan Crawford booted the ball so high off the pitch it landed on the CTA tracks which lay adjacent to Wish Field. 

Torrellas’ frustrating day continued in the 56th minute when he hit a header past Cruz, but it hit the post. DePaul finally got some semblance of ball control in the 60th minute but they couldn’t maintain it for very long.

Head coach Steve Bode said the red card was one of the main things which affected the game and forced both teams to adjust their tactics. 

“We just tried to prepare the guys at halftime, like, ‘Okay most likely they’re gonna defend behind the ball and if we can get an early goal, then maybe we can get another one,’” he said. “Listen, you know, it’s not easy to play down a man, and we try to take as much advantage of that as possible.”

Loyola had an opportunity to extend their lead in the 75th minute when Ybarra received a corner kick and was open for a shot but missed wide. Just over a minute later, Cruz saved a shot on goal by first-year midfielder Jack McFeely. 

The Blue Demons managed to put the Ramblers defense on their heels for the first time in the second half in the 82nd minute but were stopped in their tracks by Crawford after he came forward and stopped a DePaul cross. 

Loyola moved down field where, in the 83rd minute, second-year midfielder Ben Bischof put the game away on an unassisted goal on the rebound off a Gates shot on which Cruz made a diving save. 

With Loyola up 4-2, the Blue Demons spent the final minutes of the game trying to push downfield, with one final attempt in the 87th minute which once again was stopped by Crawford and the Ramblers defense. 

Loyola maintained possession and ran down the clock in the game’s waning seconds. Bode said he was proud of the team’s effort and proud they got their desired result. 

“Guys came in off the bench and did a really good job today, I thought that was huge,” he said. “The guys that came in, they really added a spark, especially to get that second goal before halftime — that was guys off the bench. That was a freshman to a freshman which is fantastic.”

The Ramblers will have a little time to rest before they return home to Loyola Soccer Park Saturday, Sept. 23 against A-10 opponent Duquesne University. First kick is scheduled for 3 p.m. and the match will be streamed on ESPN+. 

Featured imaged by Holden Green | The Phoenix

Griffin Krueger

Griffin Krueger