Men’s soccer falls short in rain-soaked matchup at DePauw, 1-0

James Long | Contributing Reporter

Friday, the Washington University men’s soccer team traveled to Greencastle, Ind. to face DePauw University, dropping a tight game, 1-0, in the final early season match ahead of the home opener.

After losing the first two games of their 2018 campaign, the Bears were looking to bounce back and capture their first win of the season. In the beginning of the contest, neither side could take control of game. Offensively, both teams struggled with keeping possession in the rain. This struggle resulted in only one shot on goal for either team during the first twenty minutes of play.

Andrew Brunetti runs with the ball through midfield against Greenville University last year. The Bears lost to DePauw University Friday, their third loss in a row to open the 2018 season.CeCe Heard | Student Life

Andrew Brunetti runs with the ball through midfield against Greenville University last year. The Bears lost to DePauw University Friday, their third loss in a row to open the 2018 season.

As the first half wore on, however, the Bears possessed the ball more effectively on offense and started connecting on passes in the middle of the field. Although it took some time to develop attacks into the DePauw final third of the field, the Bears eventually created opportunities for shots on goal. In the 25th minute, senior forward Ryan Sproule forced DePauw goaltender Austin Bodner to make his first of six saves on the night.  

The Bears continued to attack the Tigers and control the ball in the DePauw defensive side of the field. Although Wash. U. controlled the possession of the ball for the latter part of the first half, the Tigers did a great job of playing lockdown defense in their final third of the field. The DePauw defense held the Bears to just one shot on target the rest of the first half. The inclement weather also played a part in the success of the DePauw defensive unit as the rain made it difficult for the possession-based Bear’s offense to accurately pass in the rain.

In addition to their defensive efforts, the Tigers used speed and athleticism to their advantage by playing balls over top of the Red and Green defense and running under them in their counter-attacks. In the 42nd minute, a foul committed by the Bears set up a key set piece for the Tigers. From the midfield line, DePauw freshman midfielder Oliver Shebek sent a free kick towards the Wash. U. goal, which DePauw freshman forward Jack Schrepferman headed back into the middle of the box. Tigers sophomore midfielder Carlos Martinez volleyed this ball into the back of the net, scoring the first goal of the game.

Ryan Sproule takes a shot on goal against Greenville University last year. Sproule had a game-high record of five shots with three on goal as Wash. U. lost to DePauw University on Friday.CeCe Heard | Student Life

Ryan Sproule takes a shot on goal against Greenville University last year. Sproule had a game-high record of five shots with three on goal as Wash. U. lost to DePauw University on Friday.

Heading into halftime, the Bears now found themselves trailing in a game where they had controlled the majority of the ball possession. However, head coach Joe Clarke said that he told the team to “stay true to our style of play, and keep staying positive.”

In the second half, the Bears stuck to their game plan by continuing to possess the ball and put pressure on the DePauw defense in their zone. The Red and Green looked for opportunities to connect on goal, outshooting the Tigers in the second half, 6-2. Despite these chances to score, the Tigers were able to ride their 1-0 lead for the rest of the contest thanks to Bodner’s superb play.  

In the latter stages of the game, the Bears played more aggressive defensively as well. This aggressiveness resulted in the Bears receiving the only three yellow cards issued for either side during the game.

Although the Bears did not get the result they were hoping for, the team definitely showed that they are a team that can make a run at any moment. The Bears possessed the ball extremely well and remained focused on playing their style of soccer throughout the entire second half. According to Clarke, the Bears played well enough to win but simply didn’t get the result to go their way.

“I don’t feel like we lost the game,” Clarke said. “We just ran out of time.”  

The Bears will prepare to host Wartburg College in their Francis Field opener Friday at 7 p.m.