DePaul 2017 Team and Recruiting Class Review

School: DePaul University 
Conference:  Big East
Coach:  Craig Blazer - 17th Season 
2016 Record:  9-7-3 overall - 4-5-0 in conference
2016 Final Season Ending National Rank:  NA
Key Losses from the 2016 Team: Midfielders Simon Megally (7g, 5a), Kevin Beyer (0g, 2a) and Erik Rodriquez.(7g, 1a) due to graduation. 

Five Year Win Total:

2012:  4

2013:  5

2014:  4

2015:  5

2016:  9

2016 Goals Allowed and Goals Against:  28 scored - 21 allowed
Key 2016 Statistic: The Blue Demons allowed a total of only four goals in their last seven contests. 

Background: DePaul had solid early season wins in 2016 against non-conference foes Albany and Northwestern but the 2016 campaign didn't look very promising in regard to Big East play when the Blue Demons lost their first three contests in league play during which they allowed nine goals while scoring only three.

Craig Blazer did a good job of keeping his team focused and in bringing about improvement in the level of their play as the season progressed. DePaul rallied to win four out of their last five conference matches to qualify for a spot in the six team Big East Conference Tournament for the ninth time since the Blue Demons joined the conference in 2005. DePaul's 2016 season then ended in the first round of the conference tournament when they were topped in a penatly kick shootout by Villanova after the contest was scoreless at the conclusion of regulation and overtime. 

Midfielder Simon Megally was a 2016 NSCAA All-Great Lakes Region Second Team selection and an All-Big East First Team selection. Defender Max de Bruijne was named to the 2016 All-Big East Freshman Team.. 

Number Starters Retuning in 2017: - 6

Offense: Challenge number one will be replacing the productivity provided by mdifielders Simon Megally (7g, 5a) and Erik Rodriguez (7g, 1a). They combined to account for fifty percent of the goals DePaul scored in 2016. DePaul will also be without midfielder Kevin Beyer (0g, 2a) due to graduation. Beyer set the pace for DePaul in the center of the park. Megally, Rodriguez and Beyer were all four year starters.

Graduate student Stijn Van der Slot (3g, 2a) and sophomore Zach El-Shafei (2g, 2a) are among key returning forwards who Greg Blazer will likely count on to help fill the void. Freshman forward Cameron Beezley who honed his skills playing for the Sockers FC is among the newcomers who look to be in the hunt for playing time up-top. 

The midfield will have a lot of new faces due to departures and therefore will be a question mark heading into 2017. Senior playmakers Phillip Koenigstein (3g, 3a) and Hans Wustling (1g, 5a) who has sixteen career assists look to be among key returing midfielders. Both could also see action up-top.

Seniors Michael Mojarro (1g, 0a) who appeared in seventeen matches last year and Austin Harrell who appeared in twelve and sophomore Joshua Bowser who played in ten are among other returning players who will seek to play a greater role in the midfield in 2017.

Freshman Istvan Wilhelms out of Shattuck St. Mary's and junior Bryan Simons are among the newcomers who could challenge for minutes right away in the midfeild. 

Defense: The Blue Demons held opponents to a total of twenty-one goals last year.

Improvement on the defensive side of the ball played a key role in the success that DePaul achieved down the home stretch in 2016. During the final seven games of the 2016 season the Blue Demons allowed a total of only four goals while posting shutouts in conference play against Georgetown, Butler and Villanova.

Senior Caleb Pothast (0g, 2a) who has been a starter for the past three seasons and sophomore Max de Bruijne (0g, 3a) who was named to the 2016 All-Big East Freshman Team are among returning backs who will anchor the defense. Junior Anton Sell who appeared in eleven contests in 2016 and sophomore Sasa Labovic who appeared in nineteen are among other returning backs who are likely to be in the mix in 2017. Joshua Bowser may also be utilized as a defender.

Firth-year senior Quentin Low who was the starting netminder last year returns in goal to anchor the defense. Low had a 1.02 goals against average in 2016 and had a hand in five shutouts. Sophomore Trevor Wilson who played in three games last year also returns between the pipes.  

Newcomers:

Coach Blazer stated, "The addition of these players will help us in our goal of advancing to a third consecutive Big East Championship along with qualifying and succeeding in the NCAA tournament." He added, "It's exciting to identify and bring in a new class of players with the skill set and maturity to compete at the national level and in the Big East which is among the top three conferences in the country."

Cameron Beezley - Forward - Lindenhurst, Illinois - Lakes High School - Played with Sockers FC Chicago. All-Sectional, Daily Hearald  All-Area, and All-Conference selection.  

Tim Iscra - Midfielder - Northbrook, Illinois - Glenbrook North - Played with FC United. Also has played with Sockers FC. 

Eddie Perry - Defender - Dellwood, Minnesota - St. Thomas Academy - Played for the Minnesota Thunder Academy. Member Minnesota and Region II ODP Teams. Also played basketball at St. Thomas Academy.

Bryan Simons - Midfielder - Roosteren, Netherlands, Trevianum. Played club for EVV Echt club team. KNVB All-Region and All-District selection.  

Istvan Wilhelms - Midfielder - Sault Sainte Marie, Michigan - Shattuck-St. Mary's - Team captain at Shattuck-St. Mary's. Played for the San Diego Aztecs. 

Prognosis for 2017:  It's no mystery that the Blue Demons have a steep hill to climb to move upward in the very competitive ten member Big East Conference.

The promising news heading into the 2017 season is that DePaul established in the later part of the 2016 campaign that on a given day they can hold their own with anyone. Wins over Georgetown, Butler, and St. John's were noteworthy. They also showed a lot of grit in their scoreless tie at the end of regulation and overtime in the Big East Tournament with a Villanova team that had thumped them 4-2 when the two sides faced each other during regular season play.

The challenge, and it's a big one, is playing at a high level on a consistent basis. However DePaul does have momentum and looks to be a team that will enter the 2017 season determined and eager to build on last year's 9-7-3 overall record and 4-5-0 mark in conference play.   

DePaul's 2017 goals are likely to include a ten plus win season, moving upward in the Big East hierarchy, again earning a spot in the six team conference tournament, and the stretch goal of returning to the NCAA Tournament field for the first time since 2007 when they were awarded an at-large berth and were 12-8-0 overall.  

In order to achieve those goals several things need to occur. The extent to which they do or do not will likely have a big impact on the level of success DePaul attains in 2017.  

For starters the offensvie productivity that left the building due to the graduation of midfielders Simon Megally (7g, 5a) and Erik Rodriguez (7g, 1a) will have to be replaced. It is difficult to determine where that is going to come from at this point. Graduate student Stijn van der Slot (3g, 2a) and sophomore Zach El-Shafei (2g, 2a) appear to be the most likely suspects to accomplish that. However, it may also come from an increase across the board with several different players like senior midfielders Hans Wustling (1g, 5a) and Philipp Koenigstein (3g, 3a) uping their productivity. Offensive help might also come from one or more of the newcomers.

There does not appear to a lot of experienced depth in the midfield. That is problematic particularly in the early going but may be resolived as the season progresses as newcomers like Istvan Wilhelms and Bryan Simons gain experience as well as several of the returning linkmen who were in supporting roles last year.

There is a lot of merit to the old adage "defense rules." DePaul's turnaround last year coincided with tenacious play on the defensive side of the ball. Continuting that in 2017 is another critical success factor. The return of senior Caleb Pothast and sophomore Max de Bruijne in the back and fifth year senior Quentin Low who was the starter in goal last year provides a solid foundation on the defensive side of the ball. It is almost always a big plus to have a starter returning between the pipes.

DePaul has added a relatively small but very promising recruting class. The Blue Demons' fortunes in 2017 may also depend to some extent on the development of the newcomers and their ability to help plug some of the gaps.  

The Big East will again be a very competitive conference from top to bottom. If everything falls together in 2017, there is a good chance that the late season success that DePaul enjoyed in 2016 will carry over to the 2017 campaign. If not, an increase in wins over the 2016 season and movement upward in the Big East race are not likely to occur.