DePaul Fired Up for Friday's Season Opener
Aug. 21, 2014
CHICAGO – Everything is for real on Friday when the DePaul women’s soccer team opens up its 2014 season against Central Michigan in a 4 p.m. match at Wish Field.
The Blue Demons came away with a 1-0 victory over Iowa in the preseason while Central Michigan fell to Pittsburgh 1-0 in an exhibition match.
DePaul coach Erin Chastain and her players are embracing the opportunity to follow up last season’s run to the BIG EAST Championship title game and at-large berth into the NCAA tournament.
The defensive-oriented team led the nation in save percentage and topped the BIG EAST in goals-against average and saves. The Blue Demons tied Georgetown for fewest goals allowed as Alex Godinez was chosen BIG EAST Goalkeeper of the Year. DePaul also features All-BIG EAST Second Team forward Elise Wyatt and All-BIG EAST Third Team defender Rachel Pitman.
“Our players realize that defense is a very important part of our game,” Chastain said. “We had a really solid defense last year and are looking to continue that this season.
“The key last season was how the backs played for each other and how they had each other’s backs. Certainly, mistakes are going to be made. But how we recovered from those mistakes made a big difference.
“It was a great overall team effort as our players defended all over the field. The higher on the field that we defended, the closer we were to the other team’s goal. That increases your chances to score. I know our group buys into that.”
Central Michigan was 8-11-1 in 2013 and 8-4-0 in the Mid-American Conference. The Chippewas qualified for the MAC tournament and lost 2-1 in the opening round to Butler.
CMU is led by Laura Gosse, Emily Cooksey, Kaylin Hoomaian and Samantha Maher. Gosse had five goals and one assist last season and Cooksey finished with three goals and six assists while Hoomaian and Maher were both named to the MAC All-Freshman Team.
“Central Michigan is a really hard-working team that has had a lot of success over the years,” Chastain said, including a run of five winning seasons in the last six years. “It’s going to be a tough game for us and a great challenge in our season opener.”
DePaul hit the ground running, entering its preseason training regimen at an excellent fitness level.
“Our preseason training went well and gave the team a chance to come together as a new group,” Chastain said. “It helped them to figure out what our identity is going to be this season.
“Now, the stakes are raised as we head into the regular season. What helps in taking it to the next level is having a lot of leadership from our seniors. It’s the way they take care of business on the field and set the tone.
“It will also take our younger players stepping up and embracing their roles.”
Following Friday’s match, the Blue Demons head to Nebraska for a 1 p.m. Sunday showdown against the team ranked No. 13 in the NSCAA/Continental Tire Preseason Top 25.
The Cornhuskers are coming off a 19-4-1 season that saw them claim the Big Ten regular-season and tournament titles while advancing to the second round of the NCAA tournament.
They are led by Jaycie Johnson who scored 17 goals last year and Maymie Conroy who had 11.
“Nebraska is a nationally ranked team after what they accomplished last year,” Chastain said. “In some ways, they should be ranked even higher than No. 13. Sunday’s game will be a real good challenge for us.”
For now, all the Blue Demons care about is Central Michigan.
“We’re really looking forward to Friday and all the opportunities this game presents,” Chastain said. “It will be a good test for us, and our group is excited to be opening the season at Wish Field.”