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DePaul Makes History With BIG EAST Playoff Win
Michelle Scandora's goal lifted DePaul to a 1-0 victory over Pittsburgh in the BIG EAST Conference Championship  on Thursday.

Michelle Scandora's goal lifted DePaul to a 1-0 victory over Pittsburgh in the BIG EAST Conference Championship on Thursday.

Oct. 28, 2010

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CHICAGO - From Doug Bruno waving a huge DePaul flag and heading up his own rooftop cheering section to the Screamin' Demons Band and the DePaul student-athletes and cheerleaders energizing Wish Field at Cacciatore Stadium---different factions of the DePaul athletic family came together Thursday on an historic occasion.

They all joined in on the Blue Demons' 1-0 victory over Pittsburgh in the school's first-ever BIG EAST Conference Championship tournament win---courtesy of Michelle Scandora's penalty-kick goal in the 39th minute.

DePaul (11-8-2) advances to the BIG EAST quarterfinals and a 1 p.m. game on Sunday at No. 13/12 Marquette (14-3-2).

Not long after the final horn had sounded, the women's soccer players walked over and saluted Bruno, the women's basketball coach who was perched on top of the Sullivan Athletic Center.

"It was fun to see him waving that big flag," said DePaul coach Erin Chastain. "That's the type of place DePaul is---a family athletic department which makes it so special.

"Doug took time out on the same day as the Tipoff Luncheon to give our kids a motivational speech. He has so much experience with postseason tournaments.

"Our team thought so much of him doing that, and really took his words to heart."

There was Arianna Foster in the 39th minute making a surgery-precise pass through the narrowest of openings between two Panther defenders to Natasa Radosavljevic.

"I made my move on the right and Ari had two players on her, so I yelled to her, Radosavljevic said. "She slipped it right through. I saw the keeper coming out and took a touch.

"The keeper clipped my foot and I rolled over, and we got a penalty kick."

The whistle in the box handed DePaul a golden opportunity.

"I kind of got excited because I anticipated taking it," Scandora said. "I was telling myself to relax, focus on the shot and don't over-think it."

Scandora fired her shot into the lower left corner as Pittsburgh goalkeeper Morie Kephart moved in the other direction.

"I was real excited," Scandora said about her second goal of the season. "I turned around and looked at my teammates and thought it would help us get the momentum back."

DePaul goalkeeper Kelsey Hoinkes and a back line of Casey Mercurio, Kylie Nordness, Rebekah Roller and Beth Perry with help from Janina Locascio combined for the team's eighth shutout of the season.

Hoinkes made two huge saves in the second half.

The first one was a diving stop, and the second one she leaped and deflected a Pittsburgh shot headed towards the upper portion of the DePaul net.

"There were a lot of legs in front of me, and I just reacted to the shot," Hoinkes said abut the first dramatic stop. "I guess you could say I made the right move at the right time.

"The other shot, those are the scariest. It's up in the air and with all the wind, you never know. I was able to get enough fingers on it to push it high.

"It's awesome to get this first BIG EAST playoff win. I'm a senior, and all of us just won our last game at Wish Field. Now, we want to keep on going."

If only a certain nationally acclaimed women's basketball coach could show up at Valley Fields in Milwaukee on Halloween Sunday.

"Doug Bruno came and talked to us the other day, and it helped for the team to hear from such an impactful coach," Scandora said. "I was happy to see him out there.

"And, the student section was great. They really helped us play better today."

Speaking of impactful, what about that first BIG EAST playoff victory?

"It's huge," Scandora said. "It shows the potential that this team has and the cohesiveness that we have.

"We needed a win like this for confidence against Marquette on Sunday."

NOTES: The 11th win of the season is the second-highest total in the 15-year history of DePaul women's soccer... the 2003 Blue Demons went 14-7-2 en route to a Conference USA tournament title and NCAA tournament appearance... the victory over Pittsburgh snapped a four-game losing streak for the Blue Demons... it's appropriate that DePaul wins its first BIG EAST playoff game in the first season of the new Wish Field at Cacciatore Stadium... Marquette is riding an 11-game winning streak and hasn't loss since Sept. at then-No. 10 Brigham Young... Pittsburgh outshot DePaul 11-9 on Thursday and had a 5-3 edge in shots on goal... Tara Strickland took two shots for the Blue Demons while Scandora, Lauren Pagone, Callie Hemming, Roller, Kelly Blumberg, Ashleigh Goddard and Erin Pekovitch each had one... Hoinkes made five saves in recording her first shutout of the season... Pagone leads DePaul with six goals and one assist for 13 points, followed by Strickland (three goals, six assists) with 12 points and Hemming (fur goals, three assists) with 11... Strickland tops the team in shots with 54 and shots on goal with 19... the Screamin' Demons Band that fired up the Wish Field at Cacciatore Stadium crowd on Thursday was under the direction of Jeff Livursi.