Mercurio Has Her Day on the Awards Stand
Sept. 13, 2010
CHICAGO - Monday was the day the women's college soccer world sat up and took notice of Casey Mercurio.
First came the good news that DePaul's sophomore defender had been selected as the BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Week.
Right after that, Mercurio was chosen among 15 players nationally as a Primetime Performer of the Week by CollegeSoccer360.com.
"I was ecstatic," Mercurio said about her reaction to the dual awards. "It's very exciting and also a good reflection on the whole back line.
"I was kind of frustrated after the first two games of the season because I wasn't getting in much.
"But the coaches were very supportive, and they believed in me. Eventually I stepped it up and started playing like I know I can."
In last Friday's 0-0 double-overtime tie with Big Ten power Michigan State, the Spartans launched five corner kicks in the extra periods.
Mercurio made sure none of them got re-directed into the DePaul net.
"Casey has wonderful athleticism, is great in the air, and is a very tough and fearless defender," said DePaul coach Erin Chastain. "She led our back line in shutting down a very dynamic attacking group at Michigan State.
"She followed that up with a very solid performance on Sunday against a Drake program that is off to its best start in school history."
The Blue Demons slowed the Bulldogs down with a 2-0 victory.
Mercurio couldn't have picked a better time to emerge as De Paul's defensive stopper en route to winning her first BIG EAST weekly award.
She has helped fill the void created by injuries to a pair of starting defenders and emerged as a difference-maker on defense along with Rebekah Roller, Kylie Nordness, Beth Perry and goalkeeper Claire Hanold.
Mercurio started at center back as a freshman in 2008, but was injured the following year and sat out the entire season.
"Once I got back, it took me a while to adjust to the speed of play," Mercurio said. "There was a little doubt. Would I be as good as I was after sitting out so long?
"I'm proving to myself that I can be just as good with a chance to be ever better."
The back-to-back shutouts last weekend gave the Blue Demons four in eight games this season.
"Casey was out for about nine months, and is really starting to regain her pre-injury form," Chastain said. "She was one of our best defenders in 2008.
"I am extremely proud of Casey, and I know that being back on the field for our program means the world to her."
The 2009 Blue Demons were nicknamed "Team Turnaround" after posting the best season since 2003.
"It was a little hard seeing all that success and not being able to be a part of it," Mercurio said. "Being out a year gives you a whole different perspective.
"But, I'm a part of it this year, and I just want to be there for my teammates."
She will need to be at her vigilant best on Friday when No. 3/11 Notre Dame invades Wish Field at Cacciatore Stadium for a 4 p.m. BIG EAST Conference opener.