DePaul Faces No. 2 Louisville in Crunch Time
Oct. 19, 2010
CHICAGO - Crunch time is here, and DePaul has little margin for error.
As the Blue Demons head to Louisville, Ky. for their 6 p.m. match Wednesday against the nation's second-ranked soccer team, they are tied for the last BIG EAST Conference playoff spot with St. John's.
At least DePaul (3-7-4, 0-3-2 in the BIG EAST) controls its own fate. The Blue Demons play St. John's at home on Saturday on Senior Day and conclude the regular season on Oct. 30 at Rutgers.
St. John's is tied with DePaul for the last playoff berth and Rutgers is two points behind them.
"There's always so much excitement being in the BIG EAST," said DePaul coach Craig Blazer. "Whether you're playing for first place or trying to get into the sixth spot to make the playoffs, there's always so much anticipation for every game."
The last time DePaul set foot in Cardinal Park, it was the 2009 BIG EAST quarterfinals and Louisville was ranked No. 5 in the country. Andre Gutierrez's late goal made it 1-1, and it remained that way through two overtimes.
Louisville advanced to the conference semifinals on penalty kicks.
"Louisville is having a great year, and they are even better than last year when they won the Red Division title," Blazer said. "Coach Ken Lolla has his player ready and his system in place.
"Their style of soccer will put us under a lot of pressure. They're doing a good job of keeping the ball and moving it while playing a great brand of soccer."
Louisville (10-0-2, 5-0-0) has outscored teams 24-6, including 13-3 in the second half. The Cardinals have outshot opponents by a resounding 207-97 and hold an 80-27 dominance in shots on goal.
Eleven different Louisville players have scored, led by Dylan Mares with six goals and Nick DeLeon with four. Colin Rolfe and Kenney Walker each have four assists. Goalkeeper Andre Boudreaux has given up six goals in 12 matches.
While the Blue Demons are battling Louisville, St. John's will be playing at Rutgers.
After that comes Showdown Saturday, and what better way to celebrate Senior Day than to knock off St. John's.
"This group of seniors has played in a lot of memorable games," Blazer said about Kevin Briars, Andre Gutierrez, Willy Lara, Alex Mangan and Charlie Mancuso. "They have been to the BIG EAST tournament every year---twice to the semifinals and once to the quarterfinals. They have also competed in an NCAA tournament game.
"It's a significant group that played an important role in our success, and they all contributed in their own ways.
"They are the bridge from our past success to the next generation of DePaul soccer. These seniors have had a significant impact on the program, especially in this blending year with so many new faces."
Mangan is sixth all-time in goals with 25 and needs one more to equal Cedric Thompson. Mangan's 54 career points is eighth all-time, two behind Thompson and three behind Peter Mokran.
St. John's (6-5-2, 0-3-2) has outscored teams 20-13 and outshot them 210-165. The Red Storm has outshot opponents 109-73 in the first half and holds a decisive 84-48 advantage in corner kicks.
Tadeu Terra leads St. John's with four goals and five assists while Pablo Battuto Punyed has four goals and one assist.
"The key to St. John's is to play to our potential and hopefully someone steps up to make a good defensive play, and someone steps up to score a goal. Blazer said. "This late in the season to still be tied with St. John's for the last playoff spot shows the parity of college soccer in the Big EAST.