Men's Soccer Begins BIG EAST Weekend on the Road
CHICAGO - After starting the BIG EAST slate with home matches against Georgetown and Seton Hall, the DePaul men’s soccer team travels to Pittsburgh and West Virginia this weekend. The Blue Demons play at Pittsburgh on Friday night before making the trip to Morgantown, W.Va., for a Sunday afternoon contest with the Mountaineers.
Looking at the Blue Demons: DePaul nearly upset a pair of top 25 teams to open BIG EAST play last weekend... DePaul lost, 4-3, to then-No. 21 Georgetown in overtime before tying then-No. 17 Seton Hall, 2-2, in double overtime... the loss to Georgetown snapped a three-match unbeaten streak... it was the longest since a pair of three-game runs without a lost in 2003... the three goals against the Hoyas were the most in a match for the Blue Demons since a 3-1 win against UW-Green Bay on Sept. 8, 2002... the five combined goals in the two matches against Georgetown and Seton Hall are the highest two-game total in the Craig Blazer era... it the most in back-to-back matches since seven goals were at Northwestern (W, 3-1) and at Memphis (W, 4-3) on Oct. 13 and 17, 1999... the program’s last four-match unbeaten streak occurred with four wins in 1995... the longest unbeaten streak in school history was in 1994 with eight straight games... with two defeats through the first six matches, the team is off to the best start in five years... the five players that have scored a goal this season did not score in 2004... 15 of the student-athletes are either sophomores or freshmen... John Partyka and Brian Visser were named to the Holiday Inn City Centre Classic All-Tournament team... the Blue Demons played in eight overtime matches (1-4-3) in 2004 and 12 games were decided by one goal (2-10)... this season has seen two overtime matches (0-1-1) and two games decided by a goal (1-1)... head coach Craig Blazer is in his fifth season at DePaul.
Best for Last: Adam Hermsen leads the team with three goals and an assist after totaling a goal and an assist against the Hoyas and a goal against the Pirates. Hermsen scored in dramatic fashion in both games with headers off passes from the opposite sideline to tie each match in the final minutes of regulation. The senior midfielder did not score a goal in 2004 and entered his senior season with three career goal and five assists.
Noting Pittsburgh: The Panthers enter the weekend at 1-4-1 overall and 0-2-0 in BIG EAST action. Last weekend, Pittsburgh opened the BIG EAST slate with losses at Villanova and Rutgers. The Panthers fell, 2-0, to Villanova on Sept. 16 before a 4-1 loss on Sept. 18 at Rutgers. Dwayne Grant-Higgins leads the team with eight points on four goals while Keeyan Young has totaled seven points on three goals and an assist. As a team, the Panthers have been outscored, 19-12, but have been shutout just once. Head coach Joe Luxbacher is in his 22nd season leading the Panthers. Pittsburgh was picked to finish seventh in the Blue Division in the BIG EAST preseason poll.
Checking on West Virginia: The Mountaineers open the weekend with a Friday night game against South Florida. West Virginia starts the weekend with a 4-3 overall record and a 1-1 mark in BIG EAST play. Last weekend, they knocked off Rutgers, 3-0, before falling to Villanova, 2-1. They have outscored their opponents, 11-5, with each victory coming via a shutout. Jarrod Smith and Dan Stratford leads the club with six points each. Smith has three goals while Stratford has added two goals and two assists. Head coach Mike Seabolt is in his fourth season leading the West Virginia program. The Mountaineers were picked to finish fifth in the Blue Division in the BIG EAST preseason poll.
Record Book Watch: DePaul senior Luke Rojo is closing in on the all-time top 10 scoring list. Rojo, who missed last season with an injury, has scored two goals this season for 38 career points on 15 goals and 10 assists. He is tied for 11th all-time with Kevin Jennings (18G/2A - 1989-92). He needs six points to pass 10th-ranked Dusan Colakovic and tie Shane Hudson for ninth all-time. On the goals chart, Rojo needs 10 goals to move into a tie for sixth and four more assists to tie the fifth spot all-time. The senior has played in 56 career matches.
Preseason Picks: The Blue Demons were picked to finish eighth in the Red Division of the BIG EAST Preseason Poll. The BIG EAST Conference features a pair of eight-team divisions with the top 12 overall teams advancing to the league tournament. St. John’s was chosen as the favorite to win the Red Division while Connecticut earned the preseason nod from the coaches for the eight-team Blue Division.
Looking Forward: DePaul steps out of BIG EAST play next Wednesday with a match at Loyola-Chicago. The Blue Demons take the short trip to Rogers Park for a 7 p.m. match. Syracuse visits Wish Field on Oct. 1 before the Blue Demons play at Villanova (Oct. 8) and USF (Oct. 12). DePaul finishes the regular season with three of the final five matches at home against Rutgers, Illinios-Chicago and Louisville with road matches at St. John’s and Cincinnati.
Outstanding in the Classroom: Prior to the start of the season the Blue Demons were awarded the Conference USA Sport Academic Award for having the highest team GPA during the 2004-05 academic year. It marks the second time in the last three years that the men’s soccer team earned the honor. The Blue Demons totaled a 3.13 team GPA last year and earned the honor following the 2002 season with a GPA of 3.14.