Blazer to Chastain: Believe in Yourself
TAMPA - What better source to provide a little playoff insight for DePaul women's soccer coach Erin Chastain than Blue Demons men's soccer coach Craig Blazer.
Blazer and the men's team will be in the USF Soccer Stadium stands Thursday night lending their support when the women take on the Bulls in their historic first appearance in the BIG EAST Championships. The men's team lost a hard-fought 1-0 decision No. 6 USF on Wednesday night.
After all, Blazer has led DePaul to three playoff victories in the last two years and back-to-back appearances in the BIG EAST final four.
"It a process of believing you're as good as the other team," Blazer said. "Until you go through the playoff experience, there can be a little self-doubt. But if you believe what you did throughout the season was good enough, you will have learned to believe in yourself."
From what Blazer has seen, Chastain's ballclub is for real.
"The women Blue Demons have shown they're an outstanding team," Blazer said. "This is a strong team built on good defending. Their goalkeeper (Claire Hanold) and back line (Dominique and Janina Locascio, Chelsea Grant, Beth Perry) give them a solid foundation.
"They have been gaining the confidence to put together performances that give them an opportunity to win."
The men's team qualified for its first BIG EAST tournament in 2006.
"We played at Notre Dame, gave up an early goal, and you could just feel the wind come out of our sails," Blazer said. "We went on to lose 2-0. The team was nervous and there were jitters. That year, we did a great job of reaching our goal to make the tournament.
"The first time you play in the tournament, it's such a learning process going against the best teams in the BIG EAST, and in the country. It doesn't come overnight."
The women's team can draw upon victories this season over then-No. 11 Missouri and then-No. 22 Georgetown.
"Realistically, in a tournament setting, the better teams win," Blazer said. "It's a process of getting better each time you make it back to the tournament.
"In 2006, we had a young team that was happy to be there. In 2007, we were much better in the regular season, won the Red Division, got a first-round bye and had a much better seeding in the tournament. In 2008, we won at home against Pittsburgh and then won on the road against Connecticut.
"You can believe in yourself as you see it happen. There's no reason the women can't have that same self-belief after the great season they just had."