For the First Time, DePaul is Out at Home
CHICAGO - Home had been ever so sweet for the DePaul women's soccer team this season.
In fact, the Blue Demons had not lost a game in eight weeks at Wish Field, a source of pride for this young team looking to build a winning tradition in Lincoln Park.
Well, it's time for DePaul to build another home winning streak after coach Erin Chastain's ballclub dropped a 2-1 decision to Connecticut on a sunny Sunday afternoon.
It was DePaul's first home loss after going 5-0-1 at Wish Field.
"We're still searching for that 90-minute performance," Chastain said. "We played well for about 75 minutes today.
"I thought we played very good in the first half."
After a scoreless first half, UConn (10-6-0, 5-4-0 in the BIG EAST) seized the lead in the 58th minute when leading scorer Linda Ruutu dribbled in on the right side and fired the ball past goalkeeper Claire Hanold from 22 yards away.
That was Ruutu's eighth goal of the season.
"We gave her too much of a look," Chastain said. "We needed to have someone stop her from taking that shot."
DePaul (9-7-2, 4-5-0 in the BIG EAST) was fortunate in the first half when Jessica Shufelt's shot bounced off the post.
Although the Blue Demons created a few dangerous opportunities, they had problems generating a consistent attack.
The decisive play of the match took place late in the second half. UConn had the ball in DePaul's penalty box when a foul was called on a Blue Demon player in the 81st minute.
That mandated a 12-yard penalty kick that was taken by Meghan Cunningham. Hanold was one-on-one and couldn't prevent Cunningham's shot into the back of the net.
"We have to learn that you cannot commit a foul in that situation," Chastain said.
DePaul gave up a penalty-kick goal last week in a 2-1 loss to Rutgers.
Tara Strickland helped her team avoid the shutout when she fired in a shot from 30 yards away on a free kick at the 89:36 mark.
"It was a designed play," Chastain said. "Tara is very good at set pieces, and Lauren (Pagone) did a good job of getting in front of their goalkeeper (Jessica Dulski) to block her view."
That was a team-high sixth goal for Strickland.
"We did get a split for the weekend (1-0 victory over Providence on Friday), but I'm disappointed we didn't come away with any points (in the BIG EAST standings) today," Chastain said. "We'll get ourselves ready for Georgetown on Friday."
NOTES: The nine victories this year equals the number of wins from the 2007 and 2008 seasons combined... Villanova's scoreless tie with Pittsburgh on Sunday puts the Wildcats into a tie for fourth place with DePaul in the BIG EAST's National Division with 12 points... the first five teams in the National Division will qualify for the BIG EAST playoffs, and the fourth-place team will host a first-round game... DePaul and Villanova are both five points ahead of Cincinnati for the final playoff berth... on Sunday, UConn outshot DePaul 8-5 and had three shots on goal to one for the Blue Demons... Strickland, Pagone and Kelly Blumberg had the shots for DePaul with Strickland's the only one on goal... Strickland leads the Blue Demons in goals with six and points with 17... Pagone and Michelle Scandora each have three goals, and Pagone is second In points with seven... DePaul finishes up the regular season with back-to-back home games---Friday against Georgetown and Sunday against Villanova... that Sunday match with the Wildcats could have all kinds of playoff implications.