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Blazer: Time to Shift into Overdrive
Brian Lunar and the Blue Demons face Cincinnati Wednesday night in a critical BIG EAST Conference match.

Brian Lunar and the Blue Demons face Cincinnati Wednesday night in a critical BIG EAST Conference match.

Oct. 18, 2011

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CHICAGO - Welcome to crunch time.

DePaul heads into the final four matches of the BIG EAST Conference men's soccer season beginning with a 6 p.m. showdown Wednesday in Cincinnati.

This one takes on added significance as the Blue Demons and Bearcats are battling one another for the final playoff spots in the Red Division.

DePaul, Cincinnati, Villanova and Syracuse are in contention for the last two berths in the BIG EAST Conference Championship tournament.

No. 9/8 USF, No. 12/9 St. John's No. 15/13 Louisville and Rutgers are expected to claim the top four spots.

The Blue Demons tied Villanova 1-1 on the road and are at St. John's on Saturday before returning home to face Louisville on Oct. 26 and Syracuse on Oct. 29 in the final two games of the regular season.

"The guys understand how crucial it is to do well against a team you are trying to beat out for a playoff spot," said DePaul coach Craig Blazer. "Now, it's up to them to put that understanding into action."

Blazer and assistant coaches Hobie Hare and Craig Reynolds are trying to draw the maximum effort out of their players.

Hare has been adamant about the Blue Demons (4-8-2, 1-3-1 in the BIG EAST) pushing their endurance and competitiveness to the limit down the home stretch.

"Ultimately, you try to communicate to the guys that it's time to get out of their comfort zones," Blazer said. "What memories you'll be able to carry along for the rest of your life if you can find the courage to dig deep and push yourself beyond the limit."

Reynolds encouraged the players to regain the winning attitude they displayed in going 3-1-1 from Sept. 24 to Oct. 8.

"Like Craig said, let's get back to that winning mentality," Blazer said. "Let's play as well in the first 10 minutes as we've done in the second half of recent games."

Cincinnati (5-8-1, 1-4-0) is led by Cole DeNormandie with six goals. Shamar Shelton, Leon Powell, D.J. Albert and Matt Remaley each have two goals.

The Bearcats have been outscored 20-18 but have outshot opponents 175-156. They are coming off a 2-1 home win over Villanova last Saturday.

Blazer grew up in Cincinnati and played goalkeeper for Xavier, located in the same city.

"I'm one of nine in the Blazer family, and there will be more than 30 family members and friends at Gettler Stadium cheering for DePaul," Blazer said. "I've been playing and coaching against Cincinnati for most of my soccer life.

"It's going to be more than a game to me. It's going to be a great time."

BLUE DEMON QUICK KICKS

• In 2010, DePaul secured a BIG EAST playoff berth by winning the final game of the regular season.

Antonio Aguilar is tied for third in the BIG EAST in points with 16 and fourth in shots with 44.

• Aguilar is tied for fourth in goals (six) and tied for seventh in assists (four).

David Selvaggi is tied for eighth in the conference in goals with five.

• Goalkeeper Eric Sorby is 10th in the BIG EAST in save percentage (.771).

• DePaul is seventh in the league in corner kicks with 73.

• As a team, DePaul is No. 59 in the nation in saves per game (4.5).

• Aguilar is No. 53 in the country in points and No. 61 in goals.

Austin Toth and Kyle Gustafson are the only Blue Demons who have started in all 14 games.

• Aguilar leads DePaul in goals, assists, points and shots on goal (24)

• Selvaggi is second in goals and shots on goal (20).

• After Cincinnati, DePaul visits No. 21/14 St. John's (9-3-2, 3-2-0) for a 6:30 p.m. match on Saturday.