Blue Demons Celebrate one of Finest Seasons in School History
June 9, 2014
CHICAGO - It was quite the occasion Saturday night in suburban Rosemont as Blue Demons from every sport gathered to celebrate one of the greatest seasons in the annals of DePaul athletics.
For the first time since joining the BIG EAST Conference in 2005, the Blue Demons won three BIG EAST titles in one season.
Women's basketball, women's tennis and softball all captured both the regular-season and conference crowns. Those three championship programs had a combined record of 45-4 in BIG EAST regular season and tournament play.
They all advanced to the NCAA tournament where women's basketball made it to the Sweet 16 and softball to the regional final.
Right behind them, women's soccer finished second in the conference and earned a bid to the NCAA tournament. Men's tennis and men's track and field were also second in the BIG EAST while golf was third and women's track fourth.
Alex Godinez was BIG EAST Goalkeeper of the Year in women's soccer while Filip Dzanko (men's tennis) and Patricia Fargas (women's tennis) were named conference Player of the Year. In softball, Mary Connolly was Player of the Year and Kirsten Verdun Pitcher of the Year. Billy Garrett Jr. (men's basketball) and Dylan Christensen (softball) earned BIG EAST Rookie of the Year awards.
Verdun was an NFCA All-American and also an academic All-American while track and field standout Matt Babicz was an All-American for indoor track and is vying to become an All-American at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships that begin Wednesday in Eugene, Ore. Women's basketball stalwarts Brittany Hrynko and Jasmine Penny were honorable mention All-Americans.
Women's basketball coach Doug Bruno, women's tennis coach Mark Ardizzone and softball coach Eugene Lenti were all recognized as the top coaches in the BIG EAST. Ardizzone and women's soccer coach Erin Chastain were selected as regional coach of the year.
"I can't remember ever having a year with so much success in a conference with all the regular-season and tournament championships," said DePaul Athletics Director Jean Lenti Ponsetto. "We've had the BIG EAST Player of the Year in a number of sports along with conference and regional coach of the year honors.
"Three of our teams won BIG EAST titles while women's soccer, men's tennis and men's track finished second, golf was third, women's track fourth. That speaks volumes to the outstanding work by our student-athletes and coaches.
"At the beginning of the year, we challenged our student-athletes to make this an historic season and we talked about making a strong statement going into the new BIG EAST. We set a standard of getting every team into the BIG EAST Championships, winning a conference title and advancing into the NCAA tournament."
Ponsetto can trace the reasons for this unprecedented success.
"We had an outstanding group of seniors who provided inspiring leadership for their teammates and coaches who did an excellent job preparing their student-athletes for the task at hand," Ponsetto said. "Those programs that didn't compete in the postseason saw extraordinary growth throughout the year.
"There would have been a lot more success if not for injuries and illness. We're looking for them to improve and realize their potential going into the 2014-15 season."
Ponsetto is looking for 2013-14 to set the stage for even greater success.
"The goals in our strategic plan include seeing every program win a conference title and compete in the NCAA tournament," Ponsetto said. "We've put the resources in place to help our student-athletes achieve that goal, and we still have work to do.
"We know what the formula for success is and want to do all we can to meet our goals. We'll accomplish that by recruiting high-quality student-athletes who recognize the value of what DePaul has to offer both athletically and academically."
Here is a rundown of the 2013-14 athletics banquet award winners.
Team Spirit Award
Most Outstanding Performer