Underdog DePaul Hoping for Happy Halloween
Oct. 30, 2010
MILWAUKEE, Wis. - Most soccer experts would overlook DePaul in the 1 p.m. BIG EAST Conference Championship quarterfinal match Sunday against No. 13/12 Marquette.
After all, the American Division regular-season champion is 14-3-2 and enters Valley Fields riding an 11-game winning streak.
The Golden Eagles have outscored teams 38-14 and boast a 163-70 advantage in shots on goal.
But DePaul teams have performed quite well on the big stage in the underdog role.
Last season, the women's soccer team surprised No. 11 Missouri 1-0 on the road---the program's first victory over a Top 25 team.
The men's soccer team went on the road last season and almost upset No. 5 Louisville in the BIG EAST quarterfinals, eventually losing on penalty kicks.
Last spring, the Blue Demons' softball team upset No. 1 Washington at the Judi Garman Classic in Fullerton, Calif.
"There's no question we are the underdog, and it's not like I have to convince our team," said DePaul coach Erin Chastain. "Our team will be both anxious and loose before this game.
"They know they have nothing to lose. They want to keep going and extend their season."
DePaul (11-8-2) made a little history on Thursday with its first BIG EAST playoff win, 1-0 over Pittsburgh at Wish Field at Cacciatore Stadium.
That followed up the `Turnaround Team" of 2009 that qualified for the BIG EAST tournament for the first time in program history.
"I felt really great about advancing in the BIG EAST tournament, especially after all the adversity we had faced," Chastain said.
Last year's BIG EAST All-Rookie Team defender Chelsea Grant has missed almost the entire season with an injury.
Team captain Michelle Scandora sat out five games with an injury, and starting defender Janina Locascio was out for 10 games with an injury. Key defender Casey Mercurio missed three games with yet another injury.
"Chelsea was a huge loss for our team, and the other injuries made it real tough on us as well," Chastain said. "To still be able to perform at a high level and overcome all the adversity is very gratifying."
Helping hold the team together is a senior group headed by leading scorer Lauren Pagone (six goals, one assist), Tara Strickland (three goals, six assists) and Callie Hemming (four goals, three assists).
In addition, senior goalkeeper Kelsey Hoinkes has come on strong in the last three games.
All of that contributed to DePaul racking up its second-highest win total in the program's 15-year history.
"The seniors are a great group of student-athletes who have all been impactful in their own ways," Chastain said. "They have helped the program advance to new heights and made important contributions to a lasting legacy for their careers."
"They certainly do not want it to end on Sunday."
Although 13 different players have scored for Marquette, the Golden Eagles to watch are Maegan Kelly (seven goals, four assists), Rachael Sloan (six goals), Ashley Bares (five goals, four assists) and Lauren Thut (10 assists).
Marquette is most dangerous in the second half, outscoring teams 26-6 after intermission.
"Marquette hasn't lost a game since early September, and they're on a wonderful winning streak for their program," Chastain said. "This is an organized, disciplined, athletic team.
"Our group has to be incredibly focused. For our program to get better, you have to win a game like the one on Sunday,"