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Men's Soccer Begins Preseason Play against Northern Illinois



CHICAGO The DePaul men's soccer team hits the field on Sunday afternoon for the first of three exhibition matches. The Blue Demons host Northern Illinois at Wish Field for a 1 p.m. contest. Sunday's game is the first of three tune-ups as the Blue Demons travel to Saint Louis on Wednesday, Aug. 20 and Western Michigan on Aug. 24 before the season opener against Valparaiso on Aug. 31.
 
Following the exhibition games, DePaul begins the regular season with the Valparaiso game followed by a trip to Milwaukee for the Marquette Invitational. The Blue Demons square off with Columbia and Penn of the Ivy League on Sept. 5 and 7.
 
DePaul Men’s Soccer Preseason Notebook
- The Blue Demons return 10 starters from last season’s 12-8-0 squad that claimed the BIG EAST Red Division title. DePaul capped its historic season with the program’s first NCAA Championship appearance while Brian Visser was named BIG EAST Goalkeeper of the Year and Craig Blazer and Adam Tinkham earned BIG EAST Coaching Staff of the Year honors. The 12 victories matched the school record set by the 1994 squad.

- DePaul was picked to finish eighth in the 2007 preseason coaches poll before posting a 7-4-0 record in BIG EAST play to earn the Red Division title. A 1-0 win over Cincinnati pushed the Blue Demons into the BIG EAST Semifinals before Notre Dame ended the run with a 2-1 decision in Storrs, Conn.

- The 2008 squad returns 23 players from last season. A year ago, the Blue Demons totaled 19 goals and 15 assists for 53 points on 217 shots. The upcoming season returns 18 goals, nine assists, 45 points and 191 shots. Top returning scorers include juniors Alex Mangan (7G/1A/15P), Steffen Vroom (2G/3A/7P) and Patrick Hopkins (3G/6P). BIG EAST All-Tournament team member John Kornfeld patrols the midfield this season after totaling four points on a goal and two assists in 2007.

- Senior goalkeeper Brian Visser returns after rewriting the DePaul record books in 2007. The BIG EAST Preseason Goalkeeper of the Year holds the program record with 17 career shutouts and set new marks last season with four straight shutouts and 10 overall. Visser played 1739 of a possible 1864 minutes in the net and has totaled 4995 minutes in 55 career games.

- DePaul hosts nine matches at Wish Field this season after posting a school-record 9-1-0 mark last year. The Blue Demons defended the home turf in dominating fashion as they allowed just three goals in the 10 home matches and scored a total of 13 times. A 1-0 win over No. 2 Connecticut highlighted the home-field slate in 2007 while DePaul also dispatched #21 Louisville in Lincoln Park.

- The Blue Demons were picked to finish fourth, and picked up two first-place votes, in the Red Division by the league’s 16 coaches. Connecticut was selected to win the Blue Division while USF was picked as the Red Division preseason favorite. O’Brian White from Connecticut was named the preseason Offensive Player of the Year while USF’s Yohance Marshall received the Defensive Player of the Year nod and DePaul’s Brian Visser was the pick for preseason Goalkeeper of the Year. Visser is the first DePaul player to be named a conference player of the year honoree.

- Head coach Craig Blazer enters his eighth season with DePaul. He begins the 2008 campaign with a career record of 43-78-11 in his seven seasons. In the last six years under Blazer, the Blue Demons have posted a 28-17-5 record at Wish Field. Last season the Blue Demons went a program-best 9-1-0 at Wish Field with wins over No. 2 Connecticut and No. 21 Louisville.

- In non-conference action, the Blue Demons welcome Butler, Loyola-Chicago and Valparaiso to Wish Field while traveling to Wisconsin-Green Bay. The Blue Demons also play in the Marquette Invitational in Milwaukee where they face Columbia and Penn of the Ivy League. The 2008 slate starts with five of the first seven matches away from Wish Field. Overall, the Blue Demons play nine home matches and a total of six away games in addition to the two neutral site matches in Milwaukee. In BIG EAST action, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, St. John’s, USF, Villanova and West Virginia come to Chicago while the Blue Demons travel to Georgetown, Louisville, Rutgers, Seton Hall and Syracuse.