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Men's Soccer Plays Columbia and Penn in Marquette Invitational

CHICAGO - The DePaul men’s soccer team is one four schools participating in this weekend’s Marquette Invitational at Valley Fields in Milwaukee. The Blue Demons take on Columbia and Penn from the Ivy League. DePaul faces Columbia on Friday followed by host Marquette and Penn followed by a Sunday game against Penn. Columbia and Marquette conclude the action on Sunday afternoon.

DePaul stands at 0-1 on the season after a 1-0 loss to Valparaiso in the season-opener on Sunday, Aug. 31. Following this weekend’s games, the Blue Demons travel to Green Bay on Sept. 12 before returning to Wish Field on Sept. 14 against Butler.

What’s Back: 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.

The 2008 squad returns 23 players overall 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.

Noting the Blue Demons: DePaul entered the 2008 season with a five-match win streak at Wish Field... the loss 1-0 loss to Valparaiso on Aug. 31 ended the win streak... the Blue Demons have won their last four overtime games... Alex Mangan has scored 12 goals in 36 career matches... eight of his 12 career goals have been game-winners... he is tied for 19th all-time with 25 points (12G/1A)... in 55 career matches, Brian Visser has played in 5,016 of a possible 5,231 minutes in the net... his totals account for just under 96 percent of the minutes played in goal in the last three seasons... DePaul is now 28-17-5 in the last six seasons at Wish Field.

BIG EAST Improvement: DePaul has improved in each of its three BIG EAST campaigns. The 2005 squad totaled seven points on a 2-8-1 record before the 2006 team finished sixth in the Red Division with 12 points on a 4-7-0 record. A year ago, the Blue Demons were picked to finish eighth in the preseason coaches poll and surprised the entire BIG EAST by winning the Red Division with 21 points and a 7-4-0 league record.

Wish Field Openers: DePaul’s season-opening match at home against Valparaiso marked the second straight year beginning the season at Wish Field, but just the second time overall since the 2004 campaign. Since 2000, Sunday’s match was just the third home game to begin a season. The Blue Demons started the 2004 season with a 2-0 win over Loyola-Chicago at Wish Field. A year ago, DePaul opened the season with a 2-0 victory against Jacksonville at Wish Field.

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 No. 21 Louisville in Lincoln Park.

Previously: Valparaiso (Aug. 31 - L, 1-0) - Patrick Hopkins’ bid for a game-tying goal in the 86th minute was knocked out of the frame by a Valparaiso defender... Willy Lara set up a corner kick that found Hopkins at the mouth of the goal... Hopkins headed the pass for what was thought to be the equalizer, but a Valparaiso defender was at the back post to head it out...  DePaul totaled 14 shots to a dozen for Valparaiso... Jon Obial scored in the 53rd minute for Valparaiso... the Blue Demons totaled 10 corner kicks...

Blazer In Eighth Season: Head coach Craig Blazer is in his eighth season with DePaul. He holds a career record of 43-79-11 in his seven-plus seasons. In the last six-plus years under Blazer, the Blue Demons have posted a 28-18-5 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.

Checking on Columbia: The Lions are opening the 2008 campaign on Friday afternoon against the Blue Demons... Columbia tied Dartmouth, 1-1, in an exhibition match on Aug. 30... 19 letterwinners and eight starters return from last season’s 3-13-1 squad... head coach Leo Chappel is in his third season at Columbia. The Series: Friday is the first meeting between the two programs.

Looking at Penn: The Quakers are also in the opening weekend of their season... they play Marquette on Friday before taking on DePaul Sunday... 18 letterwinners and eight starters return from last season’s 6-9-2 team... head coach Rudy Fuller is in his 11th season at Penn. The Series: Sunday is the first meeting between the two programs.

Preseason Picks: 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.

2008 BIG EAST Championship:  The semifinals and championship of the 2007 BIG EAST Men’s Soccer Championship will take place in Tampa, Fla., on the campus of the University of South Florida on Nov. 14 and 16. The first round and quarterfinal matches will be hosted by the higher-seeded team on Nov. 5 and Nov. 8. The champion receives the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Division I Men’s Soccer Championship.