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Blue Demons Hope to Follow Winning Pattern Against No. 13 Notre Dame



CHICAGO - Erin Chastain is hoping the pattern holds true.

Each time the DePaul women's soccer team has come out with a less-than-inspiring performance this season, the Blue Demons have cranked it up the very next match.

The first time it happened, DePaul (4-2-2) was flat during a scoreless, double-overtime tie with Toledo on Aug. 28.

 Two days later, coach Chastain's ballclub traveled to Columbia Mo., and upset the 11th-ranked Missouri Tigers 1-0 on a Shannon Williams goal for the program's first victory over a nationally ranked team.

DePaul came out a little flat in another double-overtime, scoreless tie---this one Sept. 6 at Drake.

Very next game, Kelly Blumberg and Michelle Scandora scored goals in leading the Blue Demons to a 2-0 victory over Butler at Wish Field, outshooting the Bulldogs 11-2.

Guess who didn't come out with their usual fire and intensity last Sunday in a 2-1 loss to Wisconsin?

And, does that mean the Blue Demons will be at their best Friday night in a showdown with rival Notre Dame---ranked No. 13 in the country by Soccer America?

"I sure hope they continue to do that," Chastain said about her team bouncing back strong for the BIG EAST season-opener at the Fighting Irish's brand-new Alumni Stadium. "Notre Dame doesn't have to outfight a team to win. They have the best players in the country in their talent pool.

"Our players have taken on an identity that they have to outfight the teams they play to get a win."

Notre Dame (3-3) is led by BIG EAST Preseason Offensive Player of the Year Melissa Henderson, a sophomore forward who has already racked up nine points on four goals and one assist. Tara Strickland leads DePaul with seven points on three goals and one assist.

The Irish have run into some stiff competition, including a 6-0 loss to No. 1 North Carolina. Last weekend, Notre Dame fell to No. 10 Santa Clara 2-0 and No. 2 Stanford 2-0.

"I'm sure Notre Dame was disappointed about their trip out West," Chastain said. "That's a really talented team, and I'm sure they will be ready for us on Friday night."

 Chastain believes the non-conference schedule has her team ready for the BIG EAST.

"The BIG EAST is a difficult conference, but our players came here wanting to face the best," Chastain said. "This is one of the best soccer conferences in the country."

Indeed, the BIG EAST compiled a .643 winning percentage against non-league opponents---the highest figure over the last three years. DePaul was one of five teams to knock off a nationally ranked team. St. John's beat two of the nation's best, Southern California and Indiana.

Notre Dame heads the contingent of BIG EAST teams ranked nationally this week by Soccer America. After the Irish come No. 18 St. John's, No. 19 Connecticut, No. 23 Rutgers and No. 25 West Virginia.