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DePaul Demonstrates its Belief in Chastain



CHICAGO - Erin Chastain came to DePaul three years ago with a belief that she could build the women's soccer program into an NCAA and BIG EAST Conference power.

That belief began to manifest itself last fall when the Blue Demons advanced to the BIG EAST Championship tournament for the first time and had their best season since 2003.

Demonstrating its belief in Chastain, DePaul has extended her contract through the 2014-15 academic year.

 "Erin has shown us so much as a coach these last three years, and her ability to motivate her players has been off the charts," said DePaul Athletics Director Jean Lenti Ponsetto. "You could just see how much she has grown into her role as an up-and-coming head coach.

"It's been fun to watch her take so many young players and develop them into a winning program.

"Erin really believes in the DePaul mission and all the values of our institution. We were excited to offer her a contract extension, and pleased that she accepted it."

Qualifying for the BIG EAST tournament after being picked to finish last in the league's preseason coaches' poll culminated a turnaround season.

These feisty Blue Demons upset No. 11 Missouri in Columbia on Aug. 30 for their first victory over a nationally ranked opponent in the program's 14-year history.

Just 24 hours later, DePaul was ranked No. 20---the first appearance for women's soccer in a national poll. The team's 10-9-2 record was the best since 2003. The Blue Demons clinched their BIG EAST playoff berth with a 2-1 upset of No. 22 Georgetown.

"I'm really excited for the opportunity to extend my contract for five more years," Chastain said. "I love working at DePaul. It's very rewarding to receive a commitment to continue leading our program in the right direction."

Led by All-BIG EAST Second Team midfielder Tara Strickland and BIG EAST All-Rookie Team selection Chelsea Grant, the Blue Demons return 10 of 11 starters. That includes freshman goalkeeper Claire Hanold, who broke a school record with nine shutouts last season.

"The reason I took the job three years ago was because I could see the potential for DePaul to become a top program," said Chastain, who had been an assistant coach with NCAA power Santa Clara. "After coaching here three years, I believe that even more because of all the wonderful support we receive from Athletic Director Jean Lenti Ponsetto, DePaul President Father Dennis Holtschneider and the entire university."

Chastain's players were also highly successful in the classroom. The women's soccer team earned the NSCAA Team Academic Award from the National Soccer Coaches Association of America for the second-straight year.

Before her move to Lincoln Park, Chastain was an assistant coach for five years at Santa Clara.

She helped lead the Broncos to the 2002 NCAA Championship game, the NCAA final four in 2004 and the NCAA quarterfinals a year later.

As the lead recruiter, Chastain put together three recruiting classes that were ranked among the top four in the country by Soccer America. Her class of 2004 was ranked No. 1 in the nation.

"With the stability provided by the contract extension, we will be able to recruit the right type of student-athlete," Chastain said. "Recruits always want to know: 'Who is going to be my coach for the next four years?'

"I want them to make a commitment to us. At the same time, I also want to show them that I'm ready to make the same commitment.

"This is where I want to be. It's exciting to make a long-term commitment to DePaul."