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Men's Soccer Inks Four for Next Season

CHICAGO DePaul soccer coach Craig Blazer announced today that Joe Ferrari, Michael Kratofil, Kai Lui and Richie Podjasek have signed National Letters of Intent to play at DePaul University next season. The foursome joins the men's soccer program as it comes off the most successful season in school history as the Blue Demons claimed the BIG EAST's Red Division and qualified for the NCAA Tournament.

"We are very pleased to announce the new class of student-athletes and their families to the DePaul Soccer program. These young men are very committed and talented players and have a strong passion and desire to be successful DePaul Blue Demon soccer players," said Blazer. "Each of these players will help us improve. In 2008, we are prepared to defend our BIG EAST Red Division Championship, advance in the 2008 NCAA Tournament and again have the most BIG EAST Academic All-Stars. Myself, assistant coach Adam Tinkham, the staff, and the entire DePaul University athletic department will do all we can to ensure that these student-athletes are successful and have an outstanding experience."
Ferrari, a goalkeeper, will graduate from Carmel Catholic in Mundelein, Ill. where he compiled a 0.84 goals against average as a senior after holding a 1.0 GAA during his junior season. Carmel claimed the regional title under coach John Halloran. Ferrari currently plays at the club level with the Chicago Kickers coached by Bill Houghton.

"Joe’s athleticism and fearless approach to goalkeeping are outstanding traits to build on as he learns and gains experience from current DePaul goalkeeper, Brian Visser," said Blazer.

Kratofil, a midfielder/forward, attends Middleton High School in Middleton, Wis., where he had 26 goals in his senior season and was coached by Ken Burghy. He earned All-Conference and All-State honors while being named team MVP. Kratofil currently plays for the Middleton Yahara Soccer Club coached by Ben John and Roy Patton.

"Michael’s technical ability combined with his work rate will make him a dominating attacking player in the BIG EAST Conference," said Blazer.

Lui, an attacking midfielder, will graduate from Lake Forest Academy in Lake Forest, Ill. The Chengdu, China, native was named the Independent School League MVP while leading Lake Forest Academy in goals scored. The four-time first team All-League honoree was the ISL's leading scorer in 2007 and was a two-time runner-up for league MVP honors. Lui was coached by Kevin Versen at Lake Forest Academy and currently plays club soccer for the Chicago Wind coached by John Dolinsky.

"Kai’s technical ability combined with his intelligence for the game will allow him to make a quick and successful transition to the BIG EAST Conference," said Blazer.

Podjasek, a goalkeeper, attends Fremd High School in Palatine, Ill., where he was a Chicago Fire All-State All-Academic Special Mention and was coached by Steve Keller.  He also received Chicago Tribune All-State Special Mention and All-Area honors from the Daily Herald. Additionally, he earned the IHSA Scholastic Achievement Award and Mid-Suburban League All-Academic honors. Richie currently plays on the club circuit for the Chicago Sockers coached by David Richardson.

"Richie’s tireless work rate, commitment, and shot stopping ability are outstanding and he will continue to develop from the experience of training with current DePaul goalkeeper, Brian Visser," said Blazer.

DePaul opens the 2008 season in August and returns all but one starter from last season's 12-8-0 squad that advance to the program's first NCAA Tournament. The Blue Demons also reached the semifinals of the BIG EAST Championship after winning the league's Red Division with a 7-4-0 record. The 12 overall victories tied the program's season win total and marked just the third time in school history with at least 10 victories in a season.