Last Wednesday, the Tigers (6-4, 1-1) got off to a slow start against Anderson College and came out unscathed. Saturday afternoon, however, DePauw wouldn’t get so lucky when they took on the second ranked team in the nation.
The Kenyon College Lords (9-0, 1-0) handed the Tigers their first North Coast Athletic Conference loss, defeating DePauw 1-0.
It was a tale of two halfs for the Tigers who struggled mightily from the opening whistle until halftime, but were then able to turn the momentum around in the second half, coming up just short.
“We were terrible the first half and great in the second,” DePauw head coach Brad Hauter said. “So it was great to see the guys pull it together and make it a match during the last 45 minutes. We did a better job of holding and moving the ball which makes a team have to defend and wears them down. In the first half we didn't keep the ball and so we were the ones chasing the game.”
The awful first 45 minutes for the Tigers concluded when Kenyon’s Henry Myers beat DePauw goalkeeper, senior Jake Pezzuto with less than one minute to play in the half.
“Fatigue definitely played a role, we were defending for the majority of the first half, and everyone was mentally tired and physically tired,” Pezzuto said. “Unfortunately all it takes is one mistake like that, one play to switch off and a good team will capitalize on it.”
For the Tigers, the goal could not have come at a more inopportune time.
“Those are terrible goals to give up and ones that energize opponents,” Hauter said. “While it has that impact, our guys did well to navigate it and played a great second half.”
DePauw was outshot 9-3 in the opening half and spent much of the time defending on their half of the field.
Despite the hit to momentum the Tigers took after the goal, DePauw looked like a different team in the second half.
“Kenyon didn't have any chances really in the second half, even after we started pressing high and leaving ourselves open in the back in the last 10 minutes to equalize, they still only had really one chance,” Pezzuto said.
The Tigers best chance of the afternoon came in the 85th minute when senior Brandon Johnson headed a ball into the back of the net only to have the linesman call it back because of offsides.
The DePauw bench was quick to argue the call and Johnson was even awarded a yellow card for his protest.
However, after letting the tempers cool off and seeing footage of the game, Hauter and his players have come to agree with the call.
“I thought so in the run of play but we had some former players that were in line with the play and thought he was offsides,” Hauter said.
“I think Brandon was slightly offsides, but it was still a great finish,” senior Andy Morrison said.
On Saturday, DePauw missed a chance to make a complete circle. The loss comes exactly a year after the Lords came to Greencastle and ended DePauw’s streak of 10 wins to open the 2013 season.
Now for the Tigers, it’s time to move forward as they face a tough road ahead in the rest of NCAC competition. They will play host to The College of Wooster on Saturday at 12 p.m.
“We [will] train hard this week and put the past behind us,” Pezzuto said looking forward. “The result of the last game makes no difference to us. We move forward one game at a time.”
It’s important that they don’t look too far ahead because following Wooster they travel to Ohio Wesleyan University, a yearly matchup usually filled with fireworks.
“I think we are doing a pretty good job of taking it one game at a time,” Morrison said. “I haven't heard anyone talking about the OWU game yet.”
The Tigers do have some history of getting too far ahead of themselves.
“Two years ago Wooster came in and pulled two points from us because we came out flat and may have been looking towards OWU at that time,” Hauter said. “I trust that our guys know how valuable 3 points is for our goal of getting in the conference tournament.”