Blue Demons Hit the Road
NR/#17 DePaul at #8/14 West Virginia
NR/#17 DePaul at Pittsburgh
CHICAGO - For the first time this season, the DePaul men’s soccer team goes on the road for a pair of BIG EAST matches. The Blue Demons posted a 5-1-0 record in the season-opening six-game homestand en route to a No. 5 ranking in the NSCAA/adidas Great Lakes Region top 10. DePaul also made its first appearance in the Soccer America top 25 at No. 17 in this week’s poll.
DePaul plays the second ranked team in as many games on Friday night at No. 8/14 West Virginia. The Blue Demons knocked off then-No. 2/2 Connecticut, 1-0, last Sunday at Wish Field. The weekend concludes at Pittsburgh on Sunday afternoon. The Mountaineers are 5-2-0 overall and 1-1-0 in BIG EAST play while the Panthers are 1-6-1 and 0-2-0 in league play.
Friday’s action features two of the BIG EAST’s, and nation’s, stingiest defense with the Blue Demons allowing 0.33 goals per game and the Mountaineers holding a 0.28 goals against average. Those marks are the top two in the BIG EAST and the third and fifth-ranked defenses in the NCAA rankings.
Tough Road Ahead: Sunday’s 1-0 win over then-No. 2/2 Connecticut started a five-match stretch in which the Blue Demons play three teams ranked in this week’s top 10. The NSCAA/adidas poll sees Connecticut at No. 5, West Virginia at No. 8 and Northwestern at No. 3. The Soccer America top 25 has Connecticut at No. 3 followed by the Mountaineers at No. 14 and the Wildcats at No. 5. Following an Oct. 6 BIG EAST games at Cincinnati, the Blue Demons travel to Evanston to play Northwestern on Oct. 10.
A Season of Firsts: Just six matches into the 2007 campaign, the DePaul men’s soccer team has set a number of program firsts:
Last Defense Standing: Through the early portion of the 2007 schedule, the DePaul men’s soccer team stood as the only program in the nation that didn’t allow a goal. The Blue Demons have posted four straight shutouts to start the season over Jacksonville, UW-Green Bay, Xavier and Valparaiso. Providence ended the streak the with a 2-0 decision over the Blue Demons on Sept. 21.
Noting the Blue Demons: DePaul’s 1-0 win over No. 2/2 Connecticut on Sept. 23 marked the second straight win over a ranked team at Wish Field... DePaul defeated No. 16/11 USF last season by a 2-1 score... the Blue Demons opened the season at 4-0-0 for the first time in program history... DePaul returns 21 players from last season’s team that qualified for the 2006 BIG EAST Championship... the 2006 tournament appearance was the first for DePaul since the 1998 Conference USA Tournament... DePaul looks to continue the program’s improvement in BIG EAST play as the 2005 squad totaled seven points on a 2-8-1 record before last season’s team finished sixth in the Red Division with 12 points on a 4-7-0 record... after playing in 18 of 19 games last season with nine of the 11 starters as freshmen and sophomores, the Blue Demons return 10 starters this year... Alex Mangan has scored eight goals in 21 career matches... Brian Visser tallied his 11th career shutout against Valparaiso on Sept. 14 to set a new career mark... he broke the previous record of 10 held by Terry Paulus (1983-84)... in 41 career matches, he has played in 3,817 of a possible 3,947 minutes in the net... his totals account for just under 97 percent of the minutes played in goal in the last two-plus seasons... Visser’s four straight shutouts to start the 2007 season is also a new single-season record for consecutive shutouts... Julian Chill? needs three assists to move into the program’s all-time top five in career helpers... DePaul is now 24-17-5 in the last five-plus seasons at Wish Field.
Deuces Wild: DePaul opened the season by posting three consecutive wins by a score of 2-0. The Blue Demons blanked Jacksonville, UW-Green Bay and Xavier while scoring twice in each match. Additionally, DePaul also won a pair of exhibition matches over Northern Illinois and Western Michigan by the score of 2-0 in each match. Overall, four of the six regular-season matches have been decided by a 2-0 score. Providence defeated the Blue Demons by the two-goal margin of 2-0 on Sept. 21.
Vroom, Hopkins and Visser Named to BIG EAST Honor Roll: In the three of the first four weeks of the season, a DePaul player has been named to the BIG EAST Honor Roll. Steffen Vroom was named list following the win over Jacksonville while Patrick Hopkins was selected after wins over UW-Green Bay and Xavier. Brian Visser was named to the honor roll after leading the Blue Demons to a shutout of Valparaiso.
Wish Field Openers a Rarity: DePaul’s season-opening match at home against Jacksonville was just the second time the Blue Demons have started the season on Wish Field since the 2004 campaign. Since 2000, the match was just the second 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 2-1 defeat at Valparaiso.
Blazer In Seventh Season: Head coach Craig Blazer is in his seventh season with DePaul. In the last five-plus years under Blazer, the Blue Demons have posted a 24-17-5 record at Wish Field. Last season the Blue Demons went 3-6-0 at Wish Field with wins over No. 11 USF and St. John’s.
Checking on West Virginia: The Mountaineers are 5-2-0 overall and 1-1-0 in BIG EAST play entering this weekend’s action... West Virginia split a pair of road BIG EAST matches last weekend... the Mountaineers fell at St. John’s, 1-0, before defeating Syracuse by a 1-0 decision... Dan Stratford leads the team with six points on two goals and two assists... goalkeeper Zach Johnson has tallied five shutouts and allowed just two goals while playing every minute in goal this season... head coach Marlon LeBlanc is in his second season at West Virginia. The Series: West Virginia has claimed victories in each of the two meetings... the Mountaineers won, 2-0, in 2005 in Morgantown before knocking off DePaul, 3-0, in Chicago last season.
Previewing Pittsburgh: Pittsburgh is 1-6-1 overall this season and 0-2-0 in BIG EAST matches... they opened BIG EAST play last weekend with a 2-0 loss at Syracuse and a 4-1 defeat at St. John’s... the Panthers host USF on Friday afternoon... E.J. McCormick leads the team with six points on three goals... Eric Barnes and Jordan Marks have split time in the net and combined for a 2.10 goals against average... head coach Joe Luxbacher is in his 24th season at Pittsburgh. The Series: Sunday is the third meeting between the two programs... Pittsburgh has won both games by 1-0 scores including last season’s meeting in Chicago where Keeyan Young scored the game-winner at 89:59.
Preseason Picks: The Blue Demons were picked to finish eighth in the Red Division by the league’s 16 coaches. DePaul was picked to finish eighth in 2006 before placing sixth and advancing to the BIG EAST Championship. Connecticut was selected to win the Blue Division while St. John’s was picked as the Red Division preseason favorite.
2007 BIG EAST Championship: The semifinals and championship of the 2007 BIG EAST Men’s Soccer Championship will take place in Storrs, Conn., on the campus of the University of Connecticut. The first round and quarterfinal matches will be hosted by the higher-seeded team on Nov. 7 and Nov. 10. The champion receives the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Division I Men’s Soccer Championship.