Men's Soccer Faces Notre Dame in BIG EAST Semifinals
2007 BIG EAST Championship Semifinal
CHICAGO - The DePaul Blue Demons travel to Storrs, Conn., as one of four remaining teams in the 2007 BIG EAST Championship. The Blue Demons advanced to this weekend’s action with a 1-0 win over Cincinnati on Nov. 10 at Wish Field. DePaul, the top seed from the Red Division, takes on the No. 2 Blue Division seed Notre Dame at 5 p.m. ET on Friday. The second semifinal features Blue Division top seed Connecticut playing No. 2 Red Division seed Louisville at 7:30 p.m. ET.
The Blue Demons won the Red Division with a 1-0 victory over Syracuse on Nov. 3. DePaul finished with 21 points ahead of second-place finishers Louisville and St. John’s at 20 points each. Cincinnati was the Red Division fifth seed and knocked off Blue Division No. 4 Providence, 2-0, in the first round on Wednesday, Nov. 7.
DePaul is 12-6-0 overall and ranked fifth in the NSCAA/adidas Great Lakes Region rankings while posting a 7-4-0 record in league play. The Blue Demons returned to the Soccer America top 25 this week at No. 19. The Irish are 11-3-5 overall and finished with a 7-0-4 mark in BIG EAST play. Notre Dame is No. 11 in the NSCAA/adidas national poll, 12th in the Soccer America top 25 and second in the NSCAA/adidas Great Lakes Region.
A Season of Firsts: The 2007 campaign has seen a number of program firsts for the DePaul men’s soccer team:
DePaul in the BIG EAST Championship: Following the win over Cincinnati, DePaul is 1-1 all-time in BIG EAST Championship play. Last season saw the Blue Demons drop a 2-0 decision at Notre Dame in the first round. With that game and Friday’s match, the Irish has been the Blue Demons’ tourney opponent in two of three games.
The Blue Demons hold a 2-0-0 record against the three teams playing in Storrs this weekend. DePaul knocked off then-No. 2/2 Connecticut by a 1-0 score on Sept. 23 followed by a 2-1 win over then-No. 21 Louisville on Oct. 24. DePaul and Notre Dame did not play each during the regular season.
Noting the Blue Demons: DePaul’s 9-1-0 record at Wish Field is the program’s best home record... the Blue Demons are 4-0-0 in overtime matches this season... the 1-0 overtime victory at Pittsburgh on Sept. 30 was the first overtime win since a 2-1 victory against Marquette on Oct. 20, 2004... between the 2007 win at Pittsburgh and the 2004 victory against Marquette, the Blue Demons were 0-4-4 in matches with extra play... 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 streak against ranked opponents at home went to three with the 2-1 win against No. 21 Louisville on Oct. 24... the Blue Demons opened the season at 4-0-0 for the first time in program history... DePaul returns 21 players from the 2006 squad that qualified for the 2006 BIG EAST Championship... the 2006 tournament appearance was the first for DePaul since the 1998 Conference USA Tournament... DePaul has continued the program’s improvement in BIG EAST play as 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... after playing in 18 of 19 games last season with nine of the 11 starters as freshmen and sophomores, the Blue Demons returned 10 starters this year... Alex Mangan has scored 12 goals in 33 career matches... five of his seven goals this season have been game-winners... his goal against Syracuse on Nov. 3 moved him into a tie for 19th all-time with 25 points... 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 53 career matches, he has played in 4,835 of a possible 5,051 minutes in the net... his totals account for just under 96 percent of the minutes played in goal in the last three seasons... Visser’s four straight shutouts to start the 2007 season is also a new single-season record for consecutive shutouts... Julian Chill moved into a tie for fourth all-time in career assists against Cincinnati on Nov. 10... he has totaled 17 assists in his career... DePaul is now 28-17-5 in the last six seasons at Wish Field.
Semifinal Opponent - No. 2 Blue Notre Dame: Notre Dame knocked off St. John’s, 1-0, on Sunday in the quarterfinals... the Fighting Irish are 3-2-0 in their last five matches... preseason BIG EAST Player of the Year Joseph Lapria leads the team with 20 points on eight assists and six goals... goalkeeper Chris Cahill has logged 1,618 minutes in goal with a 0.72 goals against average and 60 saves... overall, Notre Dame has outscored their opponents, 30-16... head coach Bobby Clark is in his seventh season at Notre Dame.
Visser Named BIG EAST Goalkeeper of the Week: Following wins over Louisville and St. John’s, the BIG EAST named Brian Visser BIG EAST Goalkeeper of the Week. Connecticut’s O’Brian White also led UConn to two wins, as he was selected BIG EAST Offensive Player of the Week. The BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Week honor was awarded to West Virginia’s Andrew Halsell, while Providence’s Nick Cianci was picked as BIG EAST Rookie of the Week.
Visser led DePaul to its two league wins over previous BIG EAST Red Division leaders Louisville and St. John’s. The junior keeper made two saves against Louisville, a 2-1 win on Oct. 24. Visser then made five saves at St. John’s in a 2-0 victory. He faced 13 overall attempts at the net, posting his eighth shutout of the season.
Patrick Hopkins was named to the honor roll after scoring both goals against Louisville and anchoring the DePaul defense in the shutout of St. John’s.
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 to not allow a goal. The Blue Demons 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. Shutouts is the theme of 2007 as each of DePaul’s nine games have been decided by a shutout.
Finishing the Tough Stretch: The Northwestern match marked the end of a five-game stretch that saw DePaul play three teams ranked in the top eight nationally. The 1-0 win over then-No. 2/2 Connecticut on Sept. 23 started the stretch followed by a 1-0 loss at then-No. 8/14 West Virginia. This week’s NSCAA/adidas poll sees Connecticut at No. 1, Northwestern at No. 12 and West Virginia at No. 20. The Soccer America top 25 has Connecticut at No. 3 followed by the Wildcats at No. 16 and the Mountaineers at No. 19. The Oct. 24th match win over Louisville marked the fifth ranked opponent in nine matches as the Cardinals were ranked No. 21 in the Soccer America poll. The Blue Demons also dropped a 2-0 match to USF on Oct. 16. The Bulls were ranked 22nd in the NSCAA/adidas poll.
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, five of the 18 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. Eleven games in 2007 have been decided by a one goal with DePaul holding a 8-3 record in those matches.
Vroom, Hopkins and Visser Named to BIG EAST Honor Roll: Five times this 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 on two occasions this season. He picked up his first honor after wins over UW-Green Bay and Xavier and most recently after wins against Louisville and St. John’s. Brian Visser was named to the honor roll after leading the Blue Demons to a shutout of Valparaiso and also picked up honor roll honors after setting the season shutout record against Rutgers.
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 six years under Blazer, the Blue Demons have posted a 28-17-5 record at Wish Field. Blazer holds an overall record of 43-76-11.
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.
Notre Dame’s Joseph Lapira was selected as the BIG EAST Offensive Player of the Year while Julius James of Connecticut was selected as the preseason Defensive Player of the Year. Jason Landers of St. John’s was named the league’s Goalkeeper of the Year.