Right down to the final game of the regular season, DePaul men’s soccer had its chances to return to the Big East Tournament for the first time since 2016.
A 2-0 loss to Marquette in the regular-season finale, coupled with a Creighton loss in their final home game, ended a Blue Demons season that featured some positives but once again fell short of its goal of reaching the Big East Tournament.
Heading into Mark Plotkin’s second season as head coach, the Blue Demons are coming off a productive spring that saw them take on Northwestern, Loyola, UIC and Indiana. A couple of those teams, including Indiana, Loyola and UIC, are on the schedule again that was announced by the school shortly before the July 4 holiday.
With that in mind, Second City Soccer takes a look at five games to be on the lookout for next season.
- AT UIC (Sept. 17)
Without leaving Chicago, the Blue Demons will face one of its toughest tests of the season heading to face city rival UIC after also visiting Red Line rival Loyola just a few days earlier. The Flames were knocked out in the first round of the NCAA Tournament for the third straight season last year falling to Michigan State in a snowy game in East Lansing, Michigan. UIC knocked off the Blue Demons 2-0 last season while recording six shots on goal.
- AT Creighton (Oct. 23)
While Georgetown was the lone representative in the NCAA Tournament, it was the Bluejays that emerged from a tight race to edge Providence and Georgetown for the regular season title. Creighton got off to a good start in its Big East Tournament semifinal match against Marquette jumping out to the early 1-0 lead but Marquette’s Luka Prpa answered with a goal less than two minutes later. The two sides remained scoreless the rest of the game with the Golden Eagles stunned top-seeded Creighton in a 12-round shootout ultimately advancing with a 10-9 win in the shootout. Just like last season, the two will meet late in the year when a lot could be on the line.
- Georgetown (Oct. 4)
There was only one team that reached the NCAA Tournament last season and that was the Hoyas, who jumped out to a quick 1-0 lead over Marquette in the Big East Championship game before adding another goal in the second half as they clinched the automatic NCAA Tournament berth. The Hoyas were able to get by West Virginia in the opening round before falling to Michigan State 1-0. The Hoyas have plenty of talent returning as well led by a pair of seniors in 2018 Big East Defensive Player of the Year Dylan Nealis and All-Big East First Team forward Achara, who was third on the team in scoring with seven goals and one assist.
- Marquette (Nov. 6)
In each of the last two seasons, the home team has stopped their rival from reaching the Big East Tournament. After DePaul upset the Golden Eagles in 2017, Marquette returned the favor last season wining 2-0. The home team has not lost or tied since the Blue Demons won 2-0 in 2006 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. DePaul will have the chance to keep that streak going and send the seniors out the right way in their final home game, much like they did in 2017.
- AT Notre Dame (Oct. 1)
It’s a regular season game in early October, but this will be a great opportunity for DePaul to test themselves against a team that made a run all the way to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament last season. The Blue Demons have not faced the Fighting Irish since 2009 and have beaten Notre Dame just once, with that victory coming all the way back in 1996.