Blue Demons and Braves in NCAA Round One
2007 NCAA Championship First Round
CHICAGO - DePaul’s historical season continues in Peoria, Ill., as the Blue Demons make the program’s first NCAA Championship appearance. DePaul takes on Bradley of the Missouri Valley Conference in the first round in a 7 p.m. match on Saturday night at Shea Stadium. The winner of the DePaul-Bradley game travels to No. 4 seed Indiana on Wednesday, Nov. 28.
The Blue Demons earned an at-large bid the NCAA Tournament after claiming the BIG EAST Red Division title and reaching the conference tournament semifinals. Bradley claimed the Missouri Valley’s automatic bid with a 1-0 victory over Creighton in the conference tournament title match.
DePaul is 12-7-0 overall and ranked fifth in the NSCAA/adidas Great Lakes Region rankings while posting a 7-4-0 record in league play. The Braves sit at 14-5-3 and are making their fourth NCAA Championship appearance. Bradley is tied for the fourth in the Midwest Region and at No. 21 in this week’s Soccer America top 25.
A Season of Firsts: The 2007 campaign has seen a number of program firsts for the DePaul men’s soccer team:
Coaching Staff, Visser Highlight BIG EAST Honors: DePaul goalkeeper Brian Visser was named BIG EAST Goalkeeper of the Year and the coaching staff of Craig Blazer and Adam Tinkham were named BIG EAST Coaching Staff of the Year at the BIG EAST banquet prior to the conference semifinals. The Blue Demons were also awarded their regular-season Red Division trophy and all players were recognized individually for the regular-season title.
Blazer and Tinkham guided the Blue Demons to the best season in program history that has the team in Hartford, Conn., for tomorrow’s BIG EAST semifinals. DePaul claimed the 2007 Red Division title after being picked to finish eighth in the preseason coaches poll. DePaul also set record with 11 shutouts this season and a 9-1-0 record at Wish Field. DePaul 12 victories heading into Saturday’s match at Bradley tie the program’s season record set in 1994.
Visser is in the midst of rewriting the DePaul goalkeeping records as he set new marks for career shutouts, season shutouts and consecutive shutouts. Visser earned the Goalkeeper of the Year honors with 10 shutouts, 54 saves and a goals against average of 0.69. In 11 BIG EAST contests, he allowed just seven goals and held six league opponents scoreless. He is the first DePaul male athlete to earn a major BIG EAST award in an Olympic sport since the Blue Demons joined the league three seasons ago.
Connecticut senior Julius James was named BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Year for the third straight year in men’s soccer, while his teammate, junior forward O’Brian White, was tabbed Offensive Player of the Year. West Virginia senior Andy Wright was named Midfielder of the Year, while Seton Hall midfielder Brayan Martinez was picked Rookie of the Year. Voting was conducted among the league’s 16 head coaches, who were not permitted to vote for their own players.
DePaul in the NCAA Championship: The Blue Demons are making their first NCAA appearance.
Bradley serves as the eighth opponent this season for DePaul that is in the NCAA Championship. The Blue Demons are 2-5-0 this season against NCAA squads with victories over third-seeded Connecticut and Louisville. DePaul dropped matches to Northwestern, Notre Dame, Providence, USF and West Virginia.
First Round Opponent - Bradley University: Bradley stands at 14-5-3 entering NCAA play... the Braves are 8-1-1 in the last 10 matches... Bradley claimed the Missouri Valley regular-season title before knocking off Creighton, 1-0, in the league tournament’s final to earn the automatic NCAA bid... Saturday’s game marks the fourth appearance in the NCAA Championship with the program seeking its first NCAA victory... Drew DeGurian leads the team with 21 points (7G/7A)... Joe Donoho has totaled 15 points (6G/3A) followed by Chris Cutshaw with 14 points (6G/2A)... Mike Haynes has played all but 12:33 in goal this season with a 0.84 goals against average and 88 saves... as a team, Bradley has outscored opponents by a 34-19 margin... head coach Jim DeRose is in his 12th with the Braves.
The Series - Bradley leads 4-1-2: Saturday is the second meeting between the two programs in the last three seasons... the Braves notched a 2-0 win over the Blue Demons to open the 2005 season in Peoria... prior to that match, the two sides had not played since a 2-2 draw on Oct. 12, 1993... DePaul’s lone victory in the series was a 1-0 win in Peoria on Oct. 27, 1990.
DePaul in the BIG EAST Championship: Following the win over Cincinnati in the quarterfinals and the loss to Notre Dame in the semifinals, DePaul is 1-2 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 the semifinal match, the Irish have accounted for both of the DePaul’s defeats.
Walking the Line: The Blue Demons have had a knack for scoring late in matches to lead to victories this season. In six of the 12 victories in 2007, DePaul has won either in overtime or in the last 10 minutes of regulation. On the flip side, the 2-1 loss at then-No. 6 Northwestern on Oct. 10 occurred as time expired in regulation.
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... DePaul has scored first in each of the 11 victories... 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 34 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 54 career matches over the last three seasons, has played in 4,926 of a possible 5,141 minutes... 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.
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 are the theme of 2007 as 16 of the 19 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. 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. The 2007 BIG EAST Coach of the Year holds an overall record of 43-77-11.
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.