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DePaul Falls 1-0 to Indiana in NCAA Tournament Opener
Kylie Nordness battles for the ball in Saturday night's 1-0 loss at Indiana in the NCAA tournament.

Kylie Nordness battles for the ball in Saturday night's 1-0 loss at Indiana in the NCAA tournament.

Nov. 16, 2013

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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - After 75 valiant minutes of keeping the zero and stubbornly defending their net, the DePaul Blue Demons stumbled on Saturday night.

A Blue Demon breakdown in attempting to stop an Indiana attack led to Veronica Ellis scoring in the 76th minute for a 1-0 Hoosiers victory in the NCAA tournament opener.

Indiana (15-6-1) advances to the round of 32 and faces No. 1 seed and defending NCAA champion North Carolina (18-4-0).

In the final 14 minutes, DePaul (13-6-2) mounted an all-out attack in search of the equalizer, pushing top defender Kylie Nordness up high to enhance the offense.

In the 87th minute, Ana Greik ripped a shot towards the far post that had Indiana goalkeeper Shannon Flower making a diving save.

It was the first appearance for DePaul in the NCAA Championship since the 2003 team lost 2-1 to Purdue in the opening round.

"I'm disappointed in the loss, and it hurts to lose," said DePaul coach Erin Chastain. "I'm even more disappointed that I don't get to coach them anymore.

"I am so proud of this team and all the growth our senior class has shown in their careers. All of our players have been great representatives of our university and of our conference.

"They had a wonderful fighting spirit, and this group was one of the most feisty I have ever coached. They all just played so hard for each other all season."

Indiana outshot DePaul 8-1 in the first 45 minutes and had a 5-1 edge in shots on goal. Indiana finished with a 13-2 advantage in shots and 9-2 in shots on goal.

The Hoosiers' Monica Melink hit the crossbar on a shot in the ninth minute. DePaul's only chance in the first half came in the 38th minute when Erin Pekovitch's shot from 15 yards out was deflected at the last moment by goalkeeper Shannon Flower.

In the 39th minute, the Hoosiers had a scrum in front of the DePaul net when Kylie Nordness cleared the ball out. It was yet another example of Nordness being in the right place at the right time.

"I wasn't comfortable with the first half," Chastain said. "They put us under a lot of pressure and dominated the run of play.

"I was happier with the second half. After we gave up the goal, we had to change our tactics."

No matter what transpired on this memorable mid-November night, rest assured these Blue Demons were guaranteed to finish with the best winning percentage in program history.

They got off to the best start in program history and never let up. They overcame all kinds of adversity including a season-ending injury to starting goalkeeper Megan Pyrz and never once felt sorry for themselves.

They made history with a seven-game unbeaten streak at Wish Field and set a school record with their best winning percentage in a BIG EAST Conference seasaon and highest finish (third in regular season).

The Blue Demons advanced to the BIG EAST Championship title game for the first time in school history after a 1-0 upset of No. 15/8 Georgetown on Erin Pekovitch's goal in the 68th minute.

Once she got in the groove with her back line of Kylie Nordness, Rachel Pitman, Nina Kodros and Brianna Ryce, sophomore goalkeeper Alex Godinez had an unprecedented season. She went from back-up to BIG EAST Goalkeeper of the Year and led the nation in save percentage during the season.

"Our seniors have inspired this team, both on and off the field," Chastain said. "Rebekah Roller has made some big plays on defense for us, and she was one of the best players at the BIG EAST tournament. She came in really fit this season and has really helped our team.

"Kylie Nordness only played center back half the season in 2012, and she has really asserted herself at that position this year. Erin Pekovitch didn't play many minutes last year, and she's played mostly 90 minutes a game this season and scored a huge game-winning goal against Georgetown.

"Ashleigh Goddard has been a part of some very big plays in her career, including this season. Natasa Radosavljevic came through for us when we needed her the most and Kimmy Denne has been an inspirational presence all year.

"Our seniors put us in a great position to build on the foundation and standard they helped to set. Hopefully we'll continue to grow and get better every year.

"It was so great to coach this group."

NOTES: Women's basketball coach Doug Bruno surprised the soccer team when he showed up eight minutes before kickoff and walked up to his seat in the stands waving a huge DePaul flag... on Friday night, both soccer teams from Indiana and DePaul wound up eating at the same downtown Bloomington restaurant, the popular Malibu Grill... the teams sat on opposite sides of the main dining room... Indiana outshot DePaul 13-2 and had a 9-2 edge in shots on goal... Pekovitch and Goddard each had a shot on goal for the Blue Demons.