Women's Soccer Faces Formidable 2011 Schedule
July 7, 2011
CHICAGO - DePaul is poised to make a big splash in the world of NCAA women's soccer.
The Blue Demons will face eight NCAA Championship tournament teams on their 2011 schedule that was announced Thursday by DePaul coach Erin Chastain.
Foremost among those NCAA teams is 2010 national champion and BIG EAST Conference National Division titlist Notre Dame, whom DePaul faces on the road in its regular-season finale.
Another BIG EAST rival, Georgetown, advanced to the NCAA quarterfinals last year while BIG EAST American Division champion Marquette played into the third round of the NCAA tournament.
Two other BIG EAST teams on DePaul's schedule qualified for the NCAA Championship---USF (second round) and Connecticut.
Also looming large on the 2011 schedule is Minnesota, which advanced to the third round of the NCAA tournament. Minnesota is Chastain's alma mater.
In addition, the Blue Demons will tangle with NCAA qualifiers Michigan and Milwaukee.
"We are going to face the most competitive schedule since I've been here," Chastain said. "Our group would like to keep moving in the right direction and become a contender to play in the NCAA tournament."
DePaul qualified for its first BIG EAST Championship tournament in 2009 and advanced to the BIG EAST quarterfinals last year. Eight starters and three other Blue Demons who played significant minutes return from a team that went 11-9-2 overall and 5-6-0 in the BIG EAST.
Chastain has consistently set the bar high for her student-athletes in hopes of guiding the program to new heights.
"The players need to continue in their commitment to fitness and be ready to play in August," Chastain said. "We will need good leadership from our upperclassmen in helping our incoming freshmen adjust to Division I soccer."
DePaul plays an exhibition match Aug. 7th against Indiana at Wish Field and opens the regular season Aug. 19 against Iowa at Wish Field.
Chastain pointed out that seniors Michelle Scandora and Morgan Celaya played well in the spring exhibition season while providing leadership and consistency. The spring season included matches against Marquette, Milwaukee and Illinois State---all teams on their upcoming regular-season schedule.
"Chelsea Grant and Casey Mercurio looked good in practices, and this fall will be the first time they've had a chance to play together," Chastain said. "We're looking for Chelsea and Casey to be the leaders of our back line and to set the tone for our team defense."
A talented recruiting class is also expected to make immediate contributions.
"I've always been comfortable putting freshmen in big roles," Chastain said. "Four freshmen started regularly for us in 2008. Claire Hanold was our starting goalkeeper her freshmen year (2009) and set a school record for shutouts in a season.
"That same year, Chelsea was named to the All-BIG EAST Rookie Team.
"We started two freshmen (Rebekah Roller, Kylie Nordness) in the back line last year, and Ashleigh Goddard earned a starting spot by midseason and was named to the All-BIG EAST Rookie Team. Natasa Radosavljevic was tied for third in goals last year as a freshman.
"We're excited about the special things that could happen in the fall."