DePaul Heads to Georgetown for Conference Quarterfinals
Oct. 27, 2012
GAITHERSBURG, Md. - One of the biggest reasons why the DePaul women's soccer team is preparing for an 11 a.m. BIG EAST Championship quarterfinal match on Sunday against No. 14/18 Georgetown can be found at the back end of their alignment.
Their vigilance has been rewarded with nine shutouts this season and 15 times in 20 matches where the opponent has scored one goal or less.
"Our back four never plays scared and always battles," Nordness said. "Being tough is the main reason we have done so well. And, we never take a play off.
"We trust each other and can depend on one another. If someone misses on a play, we cover for our teammate.
"Ren and Rachel get connected to our offense, take players on and play up to the forwards. Sarah and I are completely defensive-minded. Never let a player get behind us and put a body on the runners."
Nordness and Pitman in particular seem to thrive on physical defending.
"On corner kicks and set pieces, Rachel and I get a specific person to mark," Nordness said. "We disrupt their moves and body them, try to get them frustrated.
"Don't let them do what they usually do. Prevent them from getting the ball and take them out of the game. Sometimes they focus on us instead of the game itself."
Talk about some serious focus, Georgetown is 14-2-2 and 8-0-0 at North Kehoe Field where the Hoyas have only given up one goal. They have outscored opponents 44-11 on the season and have recorded 12 shutouts.
Daphne Corboz is having a career year with 16 goals and six assists. Kaitlin Brenn has nine goals and eight assists while Colleen Dinn has six goals and two assists.
"Georgetown is very dangerous and a great attacking team," said DePaul coach Erin Chastain. "At the same time, they do a good job of limiting your offensive chances.
"We know they'll be ready in such a huge game that leads to the BIG EAST final four. They will come out with a lot of intensity, and we have to match that from the opening whistle."
DePaul (9-9-2) took Georgetown into overtime on Oct. 14 at North Kehoe before falling 1-0.
"Even though we lost to Notre Dame in double OT and to Georgetown in overtime, those were two of our best defensive games of the season," Nordness said. "We really did a good job of slowing them down.
"After the Notre Dame game, their head coach shook our hands and told Sarah and I that we had done an awesome job on defense."
The loss to Notre Dame in the regular-season finale left DePaul's playoff fate in the hands of Connecticut and Providence. UConn's 3-2 win in the waning moments of double OT qualified the Blue Demons for the postseason.
"It's really awesome that we're in the BIG EAST quarterfinals after thinking we were out of the playoffs until Connecticut scored in double overtime to beat Providence and allow us to qualify," Nordness said as DePaul topped Villanova 3-0 last Thursday in its playoff opener.
"We took advantage of a little luck to get in and have proven that we deserve to be here."
The intensity level will be much higher on Sunday than it was two weeks ago.
"The last time we played Georgetown, we came out and battled 100 percent," Nordness said. "We were the big underdogs. Kelly Blumberg marked their top goal scorer and did a great job. Our defenders were in charge of staying tight on their forwards and not letting them connect with their leading scorer.
"We battled them to a scoreless tie, and they scored in overtime. I know they will come out even stronger this time."
Which means the Blue Demon back four and its goalkeeper will be on high alert.
"Megan has done a really solid job as our goalkeeper," Nordness said. "I completely trust her in front of the net. She is so good at talking to us and directing the backline. She has kept us in so many games with her amazing saves.
"If she wasn't in goal, we wouldn't have nine shutouts this season."
Early on, there were a few question marks about DePaul's defense.
"We didn't know who would be in our back four in the beginning," Chastain said. "Once we saw how good Rachel would be at outside back, everything fit into place and we knew it was going to be a great backline.
"Some of our earlier concerns have turned into the strength of the team and has given our group an identity. Our backline has keyed a defense that is tough and doesn't back down.
"I'm proud of our defending. It's something we haven't had on past teams. Our back four and goalkeeper sets this team apart from other teams since I've coached at DePaul. It's a great foundation to go forward with and build upon."