De Leon Scores Again With BIG EAST Award
Nov. 1, 2010
CHICAGO - it's been an exhilarating five days for DePaul freshman Ray De Leon.
Last Thursday, the hustling midfielder scored the first goal of his college career in a 1-1 double-overtime tie with Red Division runner-up Cincinnati that kept the Blue Demons' BIG EAST Conference playoff hopes alive.
Two days later, De Leon scored the insurance goal in a 2-0 victory over Rutgers that clinched a spot in the BIG EAST Championship tournament.
And now on Monday, De Leon has been named BIG EAST Rookie of the Week and becomes the first DePaul player to win a weekly award.
"I'm just overwhelmed right now," De Leon said as the Blue Demons prepare to face No. 6 Connecticut on the road Thursday in their BIG EAST playoff opener. "It's a really good feeling for me and for the team to have back-to-back positive results.
"I was talking to Tony (Antonio Aguilar) after the Rutgers game and he said: `Man, you're getting clutch at the end of the season.' It's time to take some extra chances.
"I feel really motivated to do well for all the guys on this team."
"Ray has done just that," Blazer said. "He is starting to come into his own.
"He has a tremendous amount of ability and a great work ethic. Our team really believes in him and the way he never gives up."
It would have been easy to bail on a DePaul team that struggled while incorporating 14 new players into its system.
"It's become a tradition here to make the BIG EAST tournament, and we were under a lot of pressure and doubt that we weren't going to make it," De Leon said. "But we won our last BIG EAST game, and that put us through
"Now, everything is wiped clean, and it's like a new start for us. We're coming off two positive games, and we have big expectations going into the tournament."
De Leon had set a pretty high standard for himself back in August.
"Becoming Rookie of the Week was one of my goals coming into the season," De Leon said. "Coach Blazer said the coaching staff was going to put a lot on me as a freshman."
Would it be too much to ask for his third goal in three games on Thursday?
"Ray De Leon is rejuvenated now, both mentally and physically," Blazer said. "It's great. He is gaining the confidence to go forward and do what he does best---get quality shots on goal."