DePaul Falls Short in Bid to Host Playoff Opener
CHICAGO - It's not easy to get sky-high two games in a row.
Two days after clinching its very first berth in the BIG EAST tournament, DePaul stumbled a bit in a 1-0 loss to Villanova on Sunday at Wish Field.
The setback in the regular-season finale left the Blue Demons in fifth place in the National Division and set up a playoff showdown Thursday at USF, which finished fourth in the American Division.
DePaul (10-8-2, 5-6-0 in the BIG EAST) was coming off a 2-1, double-overtime upset Friday of No. 22 Georgetown that sealed the postseason appearance.
Blue Demons coach Erin Chastain had called that game the best her team has played in the last three years.
"We were so excited about what had just happened on Friday and looking forward to the Thursday playoff game instead of concentrating on Villanova," said Tara Strickland. "The focus wasn't there on Sunday like it should have been."
It cost the Blue Demons an opportunity to host a first-round playoff game, and it put a damper on Senior Day festivities. The Blue Demons needed a tie or victory to host a first-round match.
"It is tough to get back up after the high on Friday, especially with a fairly young team like ours," Chastain said. "But I have high expectations for our players, and I thought they would do it. They did play well in the second half."
Villanova (11-4-4, 4-4-3) scored the game-winner at the 39-minute, 28-second mark when Justine Wollner knocked in her first goal of the season after crossing pass from Katie Ryan.
DePaul had a number of opportunities in the second half with Strickland and Morgan Celaya each launching three shots at Wildcat goalkeeper Molly Williams. In each instance, Williams was up to the task and came away with six saves.
"Villanova has a strong soccer program and will certainly be a factor in the BIG EAST tournament," Chastain said. "We have to go on the road again, but it seems like we've been on the road all season. We went on the road and got a very big win against No. 11 Missouri.
"I was so proud of our seniors who all had different roles in contributing to this special season. They have done such a great job in building up the women's soccer program and helping us get to the next level."
NOTES: This was only the second time this season that the Blue Demons lost when taking more shots than their opponent... DePaul had 12 shots to eight for Villanova, and had six shots on goal to four for the Wildcats... Besides Strickland and Celaya's three shots apiece that were all on goal, Dominique Locascio had two shots while Chelsea Grant, Callie Hemming, Michelle Scandora and Kelly Blumberg each had one... should the Blue Demons prevail against USF in their playoff opener, they would face top-seeded Notre Dame in Sunday's quarterfinals.