Blue Demons Cram for History Test
CHICAGO - Come on over to Wish Field this weekend if you'd like to witness a little history in the making.
DePaul is in on the verge of qualifying for its first BIG EAST women's soccer tournament after missing out the last four years.
"Everyone is really excited about the chance to be a part of program history," said Blue Demon forward Lauren Pagone. "Making it to the BIG EAST tournament would be a dream accomplishment."
DePaul (9-7-2, 4-5-0 in the BIG EAST) and Villanova are tied with 12 points each in the National Division standings and occupy the final two playoff spots. Five teams from the National Division and five from the American Division qualify for the postseason.
Cincinnati is in sixth place in the National Division with seven points. The Bearcats would have to beat No. 9 Rutgers on Friday and Seton Hall on Sunday to remain in contention. The maximum Cincinnati can accumulate is 13 points.
Here are the ways DePaul can clinch a playoff berth:
This has been a remarkable season for the Blue Demons, especially considering the program had compiled a 12-41-3 record over the three previous years.
"We never wanted to repeat what happened last year," said Tara Strickland about the 4-15-0 mark from 2008. "I don't think we're nervous about this weekend.
"We're all more excited about the chance to go to the BIG EAST tournament and being a part of the season that turned everything around."
Pagone, Strickland & Co. will certainly have to earn their way into the tournament. Georgetown (12-3-2. 6-2-1) has the most potent attack in the conference, outscoring opponents by a whopping 44-14.
The Hoyas have won four in a row and lead the BIG EAST in goals, points (136) assists (48), goals per game (2.59) and corner kicks (126). They have outpointed their opponents---get ready, now---138-41.
Sara Jordan is tied for second in the BIG EAST with eight goals and is third in points (23). Teammate Ingrid Wells is second in points with 25. The top four in assists are all from Georgetown---Wells leads with 11 followed by Jordan, Samantha Baker and Kelly D'Ambrisi with seven apiece.
"We've only talked about having control over our own destiny," said DePaul coach Erin Chastain, architect of the turnaround season. "If we do well on Friday, we don't have to worry about what anyone else does.
"Our players have done a good job all season staying focused from game to game. All we're doing right now is focusing on Georgetown."
Villanova (10-3-4, 3-3-3) has a little firepower of its own in Katie Ryan, who leads the BIG EAST in goals with 10 and points with 26. Teammate Heidi Sabatura has seven goals and four assists for 18 points.
The Wildcats have outscored their opponents 29-16 and outpointed them 87-46. They hold a 16-4 edge in the first half.
"In past years, the last weekend would mean our season was about to end," Pagone said. "But this year, it's going to be the biggest weekend of the season.
"Playing Villanova on Sunday is like a playoff game because it could determine home field for the first round. And, Sunday is also Senior Day.
"It's like everything is coming together at the right time."