Everything Starts Anew for Blue Demons on Thursday
Aug. 13, 2014
CHICAGO – New field turf, new faces and a new beginning as DePaul women’s soccer kicks off its season on Thursday at Wish Field with a 4 p.m. exhibition match against NCAA tournament team Iowa.
Make no mistake, coach Erin Chastain’s team is ready for the rugged competition after finishing second in the BIG EAST Championship last season and advancing to the NCAA tournament.
“The new field is awesome, and our players have really enjoyed coming back and playing on that surface,” Chastain said. “It’s fun to be back with the team.
“We have nine new players, and the group is a lot different from last year. We have a core group of veterans who are leading the way. Our players came in fit and ready, and that has allowed us to really get going in the preseason.”
The Blue Demons were 13-6-2 last season while Iowa was 15-7-1. The Hawkeyes return nine starters led by Cloe Lacasse (six goals, seven assists), Melanie Pickert (seven goals, four assists) and Bri Toelle (four goals, four assists). Also back is goalkeeper Hannah Clark who was 15-7-1 with a 1.07 goals-against average.
“Iowa was an NCAA tournament team last year and has 10 seniors,” Chastain said about the Big Ten foe that opened the 2013 season with an eight-game winning streak. “This will be a very good test for us and will let us know what kinds of things we need to work on to get better.”
DePaul is led by 2013 BIG EAST Conference Goalkeeper of the Year and 2014 BIG EAST Preseason Goalkeeper of the Year Alex Godinez along with 2014 All-BIG EAST Preseason Team forward Elise Wyatt and 2013 All-BIG EAST Third Team defender Rachel Pitman.
In addition, Indiana State transfer and Great Lakes Region Third Team forward Abby Reed will add some firepower in the attacking third.
“In preseason training, I like the different attacking components we’ve added to the team,” Chastain said. “I like the team leadership and the expectations they are setting.
“These players have high expectations of what this season can be and they are not satisfied with last year. You can go either way when you have a successful year---rest on your laurels or strive to get even better.”
To that end, Wyatt (2013 All-BIG EAST Second Team) and Pitman played with the Seattle Sounders in the competitive, pro-am W League over the summer and performed well against top collegians and players with pro and national team experience.
“We had two players who competed in the W League over the summer and others who played more competitively in the off-season than in the past,” Chastain said. “We raised our fitness standard from last year and the players embraced it.
“They want to be the best women’s soccer team DePaul has ever had.”