The men’s soccer team will take on DePaul this weekend in what will be the Pirates’ first taste of Big East Conference play.
Seton Hall enters the match with a 2-2-2 overall record, having gone 2-1-1 at home and 0-1-1 on the road.
DePaul, a team that has won just one of its last five matches, will head into Saturday’s match against Seton Hall with a 3-4-1 overall record.
Head coach Gerson Echeverry said it is “extremely important” to get off to a good start in conference play. “Every game is important,” he said. “The more games we win, the better our situation is. We want to get into the postseason.”
Saturday’s match will be the first of four straight away matches for the Pirates, two of which are in-conference.
“Playing Big East games is different,” Echeverry said. “There’s a different feel to it. It’s conference play. But we haven’t been too good on the road, so hopefully we can find a way to change that.”
Senior captain Mateusz Brela will help lead a Pirate defense that has not allowed an opposing goal in its last two matches.
“First Big East game is always, as coach says, a different beast,” Brela said. “Regardless of who we play, it’s always a difficult and physical game due to our conference being so strong.”
Last season, the Pirates defeated DePaul, 3-1, at Owen T. Carroll Field.
“It’s a very narrow and small field,” Echeverry said of DePaul’s home ground. “They like to press a lot. It’s a very feisty team. But they also have some players that can play—they’ve got some very skillful players in the midfield and up front. You circle games that you didn’t do so well in in previous years…Last year we were able to capitalize on our opportunities, so they’re probably going to remember that.”
The Blue Demons are led by Simon Megally and Jalen Harvery, two players who will enter the match against Seton Hall with eight goals on the year.
The Pirate defense, anchored by goalkeeper Julian Spindler, who was named to the Big East Men’s Soccer Weekly Honor Roll last week, will look to slow down DePaul’s attack.
“What we know about DePaul is that they’re a very difficult team to play at, especially in Chicago,” Brela said. “They have a smaller field than us and that doesn’t work to our advantage. But, we know that if we can break the initial pressure of their defensive third, we will be successful.”
After taking on DePaul, the Pirates will travel to Drexel, Creighton and Columbia before returning home against Xavier on October 11 at 1 p.m.
“It’s always a big advantage to play at home in front of your own crowd on the field that you train on,” Brela said. “But if we want to accomplish big things this year, we have to start winning on the road. That is going to be a huge test for us.”
Seton Hall and DePaul will square off in Chicago at 2 p.m.
Thomas Duffy can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @TJDhoops.