Blue Demons Face Pittsburgh in First Round
CHICAGO - The DePaul men’s soccer team hosts Pittsburgh in the first round of the 2008 BIG EAST Championship Wednesday afternoon at Wish Field. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. and the game can be seen live at http://www.depaulbluedemons.com. Live stats, along with a live blog, will also be available.
Following a third-place finish in the BIG EAST Red Division with a 5-4-2 league record, the Blue Demons host the sixth-seed from the Red Division in the Pittsburgh Panthers. DePaul is 7-6-4 overall while Pittsburgh enters the league tournament at 7-7-3 overall and 3-6-2 in BIG EAST matches. The winner of Wednesday’s game advances to the quarterfinals at No. 2 Blue Connecticut on Saturday.
The Blue Demons secured the third seed with a 1-0 overtime win over Villanova on Saturday. DePaul claimed the regular-season match between the two sides by a 1-0 score on Sept. 28. Erich Reichmann tallied the game-winner in the 64th minute as the Blue Demons held a 11-6 shot advantage in the match. The all-time series between the Panthers and Blue Demons is tied, 2-2-0, with DePaul taking each of the last two meetings by a 1-0 score.
Connecticut awaits the winner of Wednesday’s game for a Saturday night quarterfinal in Storrs, Conn. The quarterfinal match starts at 7 p.m. ET. The winner of that game advances to the BIG EAST Semifinals in Tampa, Fla., at the USF Soccer/Track Stadium.
DePaul is 5-2-2 in its last nine matches, including consecutive wins over No. 11/10 USF, Cincinnati and Loyola-Chicago. The Blue Demons played No. 4/5 St. John’s to a 0-0 tie on Oct. 25.
DePaul in the BIG EAST Championship: DePaul is making the third straight appearance in the BIG EAST Championship. The Blue Demons 1-2 all-time in BIG EAST Championship play following last season’s run to the tournament semifinals. The first appearance was a 2-0 first-round loss at Notre Dame in 2006. A year ago, DePaul earned a first-round bye and topped Cincinnati, 1-0, before dropping a 2-1 decision to Notre Dame in the semifinals. Wednesday’s game is the first between DePaul and Pittsburgh in BIG EAST Tournament play.
Noting the Blue Demons: DePaul is now 5-0-4 in the last nine overtime matches dating back to last season... the team 0.56 goals against average is sixth in the NCAA rankings... the Blue Demons are 4-0-1 in their last five games against ranked opponents at Wish Field... the five-match unbeaten streak (4-0-1) from Sept. 28-Oct. 15 is the longest in the Craig Blazer era... all six of Steffen Vroom’s career goals have been game-winners... Alex Mangan has scored 12 goals in 36 career matches... eight of his 12 career goals have been game-winners... he is tied for 19th all-time with 25 points (12G/1A)... in 72 career matches, Brian Visser has played in 6,629 of a possible 6,758 minutes in the net... his totals account for just over 98 percent of the minutes played in goal in the last three-plus seasons... the shutout against Loyola was the 25th of his career... his 10 shutouts this season match his record set in 2007... DePaul is 32-17-7 in the last six-plus seasons at Wish Field.
BIG EAST Improvement: DePaul has improved in each of its three BIG EAST campaigns. The 2005 squad totaled seven points on a 2-8-1 record before the 2006 team finished sixth in the Red Division with 12 points on a 4-7-0 record. A year ago, the Blue Demons were picked to finish eighth in the preseason coaches poll and surprised the entire BIG EAST by winning the Red Division with 21 points and a 7-4-0 league record.
Previewing Pittsburgh: The Panthers enter Wednesday’s game at 7-7-3 overall and 3-6-2 in the BIG EAST... they finished in sixth place in the Blue Division with 11 points and dropped the regular-season finale, 3-0, at Providence on Nov. 1... E.J. McCormick leads the offense with 11 points on three goals and five assists... Eric Barnes and Jordan Marks have split time in goal with a combined 1.05 goals against average... head coach Joe Luxbacher is in his 25th season at Pittsburgh. The Series: Wednesday is the fifth all-time meeting between the two programs... the series is tied, 2-2-0... DePaul has won the last two games, including a 1-0 decision at Wish Field this season... all four meetings between the two programs have been decided by one goal.
Honors Times Four: Following a combined two game-winning goals and an assist in wins over USF and Cincinnati, junior forward Steffen Vroom earned NSCAA National Player of the Week and BIG EAST Offensive Player of the Week honors in addition to being named to the Team of the Week by both Soccer America and CollegeSoccerNews.com. Vroom scored the game-winner in the 69th minute to lead DePaul over No. 11/10 USF on Oct. 7 before assisting the first goal and scoring the second in the 42nd minute on Oct. 11 in the 2-1 victory over the Bearcats.
Vroom is tied for the BIG EAST lead with four game-winning goals this season and all six of his career goals have been difference-makers in DePaul victories. The BIG EAST honor is a first and the two Team of the Week selection mark the second time in his career that he has been named to both of the weekly national teams. He was named to the Team of the Week by Soccer America and CollegeSoccerNews.com in 2007 after scoring the game-winning goal in DePaul’s win over Cincinnati in the BIG EAST Championship First Round.
Marquette Invitational Recap: The Blue Demons finished second in the four-team Marquette Invitational with three players earning All-Tournament Team recognition. DePaul’s 1-1-0 record for three points was second to Penn with four points (1-0-1). Willy Lara, John Kornfeld and Steffen Vroom were named to the All-Tournament Team.
Steffen Vroom scored in the 23rd minute against Columbia to lead DePaul past the Lions, 1-0. The Blue Demons outshot Columbia, 13-5, while Brian Visser was credited with one save in the shutouts. DePaul followed the win with a 2-0 loss to Penn. The Blue Demons had chances as Penn was able to thwart a penalty kick opportunity in the 63rd minute and a DePaul shot hit the crossbar in the 78th minute. DePaul outshot the Quakers, 12-7, and held a 7-4 advantage in corner kicks.
Preseason Picks: The Blue Demons were picked to finish fourth, and picked up two first-place votes, in the Red Division by the league’s 16 coaches. Connecticut was selected to win the Blue Division while USF was picked as the Red Division preseason favorite. O’Brian White from Connecticut was named the preseason Offensive Player of the Year while USF’s Yohance Marshall received the Defensive Player of the Year nod and DePaul’s Brian Visser was the pick for preseason Goalkeeper of the Year. Visser is the first DePaul player to be named a conference player of the year honoree.
Blazer In Eighth Season: Head coach Craig Blazer is in his eighth season with DePaul. He holds a career record of 45-81-14 in his seven-plus seasons. In the last six-plus years under Blazer, the Blue Demons have posted a 28-17-6 record at Wish Field. Last season the Blue Demons went a program-best 9-1-0 at Wish Field with wins over No. 2 Connecticut and No. 21 Louisville.
2008 BIG EAST Championship: The semifinals and championship of the 2007 BIG EAST Men’s Soccer Championship will take place in Tampa, Fla., on the campus of the University of South Florida on Nov. 14 and 16. The first round and quarterfinal matches will be hosted by the higher-seeded team on Nov. 5 and Nov. 8. The champion receives the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Division I Men’s Soccer Championship.
Wish Field Openers: DePaul’s season-opening match at home against Valparaiso marked the second straight year beginning the season at Wish Field, but just the second time overall since the 2004 campaign. Since 2000, Sunday’s match was just the third 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 2-0 victory against Jacksonville at Wish Field.
DePaul hosts nine matches at Wish Field this season after posting a school-record 9-1-0 mark last year. The Blue Demons defended the home turf in dominating fashion as they allowed just three goals in the 10 home matches and scored a total of 13 times. A 1-0 win over No. 2 Connecticut highlighted the home-field slate in 2007 while DePaul also dispatched No. 21 Louisville in Lincoln Park.