Jaguars Struggle to Find Offense in 2-1 Loss to DePaul

Photo courtesy of IUPUI athletics

Photo courtesy of IUPUI athletics

The IUPUI men’s soccer team is yet to score a goal in the second half this season, and the Jaguars were in desperate need of one Tuesday night in a 2-1 loss to DePaul.
The Blue Demons were known to be a team that likes maintaining possession, and IUPUI (0-4) accepted that style play for most of the night. The Jaguars took whatever counter-attack opportunities they could get, but those didn’t yield results.
Head coach Brian Barnett thought his team could have pushed higher up the field to create more chances offensively, but even when the Jaguars did start to threaten, too many opportunities were missed.
“If you look at the stat box on the night, we didn’t make their goalkeeper make any saves,” said Barnett. “If you don’t make the goalkeeper make saves, that’s a tough way to win in college soccer.”
Freshman defender Tyler Gainer also saw room for improvement in situations where the offense is trying to operate quickly after winning the ball.
“Sometimes I feel like we just need to have more composure,” said Gainer.
Part of gaining more composure could be as simple as getting more experienced throughout the season. Counting Gainer, the Jaguars started seven freshmen and sophomores against DePaul (3-3).
“We had a decent amount of counter-attack opportunities,” said Gainer. “We just couldn’t finish them.”
One of those opportunities came off of a free kick from about 40 yards out on the left side in the 71st minute. Midfielder Cameron Haegele, another freshman starter, appeared to get his head on the ball, but he put it wide right of the goal. Had he converted, the game would have been tied at 2. 
IUPUI’s lone goal on the night came during a stretch when the Jaguars were getting rare opportunities deep in DePaul territory. The Jaguars got two quick corner kick opportunities in the 31st and 32nd minutes. Following the second, the ball bounced around in a scrum about five yards out from goal before taking a fortuitous bounce to freshman defender Tommy Patacca, who was waiting outside. He took an open shot on goal and put IUPUI on the board.
After that, there weren’t many chances to speak of.
Junior defender Sam Gavin was okay with the looks the offense mustered up late in the game. After having to lock in defensively for most of the night, the Jaguars started pressing the issue and did appear to have DePaul defenders on their heels at times.
“They were scared back there on the sideline,” said Gavin, “just kicking it away.”
The reason IUPUI had to scramble late to try to find an equalizer was because DePaul’s Phillipp Konigstein, one of three players on the Blue Demons’ roster from Germany, had two goals that few defenses would be able to fend off.
In the 10th minute, the senior midfielder fought off IUPUI sophomore midfielder Pedro Valladao on a throw-in deep into the Jaguars’ end of the field. From there, Konigstein dribbled with few obstacles and scored into the bottom right corner from 22 yards out.
Then in the 48th minute, Konigstein took a free kick from 25 yards out and again put the ball in the bottom right corner.
Coming into the game, Konigstein had three goals scored and 16 shots taken in five games. He finished with two and seven, respectively, against the Jaguars.
Still, Barnett couldn’t find much to be disappointed about.
“When you’ve got a world class kid that can strike the ball that way,” said Barnett, “… it’s tough to talk to your guys about dealing with that any better because they did limit his chances.”
But Konegstein did still score two goals, and at the end of the night, the Jaguars were unable to jeopardize DePaul’s to make up for a lack of possession.
“I don’t think we had enough opportunities in terms of real goal-scoring chances,” said Barnett. Did we put the ball on target? Did we earn shots? Did we earn crosses that we then got on the end of? The answer to that is no.”

IUPUI will take the pitch again against Oakland on Saturday for its second Horizon League game this season. The Jaguars won’t be back home until they host Valparaiso on Sept. 26.

Jaguars Use Strong Second Half to Down Illinois State

Heading into the locker room at half time of Sunday’s 3-0 win over Illinois State, the IUPUI women’s soccer team started brewing some confidence and aggression after a scoreless first half.

“We can beat this team. We all got confidence,” said senior defender Leia Peterman. “We just had a boost of energy, and I think that’s what kept us going.”

The scoring got started in the 54th minute with freshman forward Valentine Pursey heading in a ball off a corner kick from senior Krissy Kirkhoff, who had two assists on the afternoon. IUPUI (5-3) seemed destined to convert on a corner opportunity; they took six of them total.

Only 39 seconds later, still in the 54th minute, Pursey had her second goal, and suddenly IUPUI looked like an offensive juggernaut.

Pursey dribbled right to left through the Illinois State defense in the box, not moving fast, but making defenders fold over as they attempted to keep up with her quick feet. From about seven yards out, she tapped the ball with the outside of her right foot and snuck it past the goalkeeper for her fourth goal of the season.

“I’m not very pacey, but I can get around players quite easily,” said Pursey, offering an assessment of how she was able to weave through an entire defense.

Photo courtesy of IUPUI athletics

Photo courtesy of IUPUI athletics

It was fitting that the Jaguars got going in the second half. That’s when Illinois State (2-4-1) had given up five of its six goals on the season.

From there, IUPUI found exactly what would work against an Illinois State defensive line that was pushing up the field. The Jaguars started attacking on the left side and delivering accurate center passes to a streaking forward.

Senior forward Beth Parks called it a “snowball in the right direction.”

That approach created multiple scoring chances for the Jaguars, and one was converted in the 59th minute by senior midfielder Hayley Shelton, who made a run up the middle and was found by Kirkhoff from the left side. Shelton beat the defense and ended up with a clean look from 10 yards out.

“We just kind of picked out who their weaker player was and we thought we could run at their right back,” said Shelton, who recorded her first goal of the season “…We just started really attacking off the left side, and it opened some opportunities for us.”

A very similar look almost led to a hat trick for Pursey in the 58th minute, when she made a run through the middle and got a ball from freshman forward Miranda Ricks off the left side. With the goalie coming out on her, Pursey tried getting the ball over her but put it just above the crossbar.

This was a stark contrast from the first half, when the Jaguars were content to play a defensive first half, getting out on counter-attack opportunities when they got the chance. It was a time to adjust to the Redbirds’ style of play and figure out where they could be vulnerable later on.

“In the first half, we just kept compact and made sure they didn’t get anything,” said Pursey. “Even though they had quite a few shots, we didn’t really have anything dangerous go through.”

Illinois State outshot IUPUI 8-2 in the first 45 minutes. Then the Jaguars flipped it to 11-6 in the second half.

The Jaguars went into the second half with the same formation, even the same game plan, according to Peterman.

Shelton said they wanted to test the goalkeeper in the first half and just weren’t able to do it. But after finding a soft spot in the Illinois State defense, opportunities came in bunches.

“I think that was the difference, putting the ball on frame,” said Shelton, “and we got some results from that.”

IUPUI hosts Cleveland State on Sept. 15 for its first ever Horizon League game.