Blue Demons Confront Two BIG EAST Challenges
Sept. 23, 2010
CHICAGO - Just because DePaul has already played Notre Dame, don't think the rest of its BIG EAST Conference schedule is a virtual walk in the park.
The Blue Demons face No. 24/18 Louisville in a 3 p.m. match on Friday and Cincinnati at noon Sunday---and they come into the weekend with a combined overall record of 13-3-1.
The showdown with Louisville will be in Wish Field at Cacciatore Stadium while the Blue Demons will battle the Bearcats on the road in the hometown of sophomore defender Casey Mercurio.
"We've done pretty well playing a nonconference schedule that was tougher for sure than last year," said DePaul midfielder Tara Strickland. "But we're a better team this year and ready for the challenge of the BIG EAST.
"We still have something to prove. We want to show people that we belong in the upper half of the BIG EAST and that we can play in the NCAA tournament."
Even after last Sunday's 2-0 victory over Loyola-Chicago, DePaul soccer coach Erin Chastain wasn't totally pleased.
"I hold the group accountable for certain things every game, whether we're playing a Top-25 team or someone who is No. 95," Chastain said. "Our group has fallen short of some of the expectations that we've set.
"We're struggling to find consistent 90-minute performances. I'm hopeful that we'll see more consistent performances and results as we enter the second half of the season.
"Last year, about this time, I felt like we were hitting our stride a little more."
Louisville (7-1-0, 1-0-0 in the BIG EAST) hit the ground running, winning its first seven games. That streak was snapped in a 3-0 loss to then-No. 21 Illinois last Sunday.
"They have a couple of freshmen (Christine Exeter and Angelika Uremovich) who have been very impactful for them." Chastain said. "They will be very confident coming into this game."
Exeter has six goals and Uremovich four goals and two assists as the Cardinals have outscored their opponents 18-6 and have tallied 44 points to 16 for the opposition.
Cardinals' goalkeeper Taylor Vancil has 35 saves, four shutouts and a 0.75 goals-against average.
But DePaul (5-3-2, 0-1-1) has gained confidence in nonconference games against teams such as Michigan State, Northwestern and Iowa that are all ranked in the Great Lakes Region.
And, there was the loss to Notre Dame that was a 1-0 ballgame until the end when the Blue Demons gambled by pulling a defender for an extra forward in the 2-0 loss.
"My first three years here, we had problems with Notre Dame," Strickland said. "This year, we stayed with them, and the game could've gone either way. "That shows the progression we've made. "Every tough game we've had, our team has stepped up and shown it can play with any team in the country."
Cincinnati (6-2-1, 0-1-0) is led by junior forward Emily Hebbeler who has scored four of the Bearcats' 10 goals.
Goalkeeper Rachel Barnette has 33 saves, five shutouts and a goals-against average of 0.85. The Bearcats lost to Louisville 3-1 on Sept. 16.