Thursday, August 11, 2016

A new leaf turns for DePaul women's soccer

                Photo Credit: Steve Woltmann/DePaul Athletics

In any collegiate sport, roster turnover tends to be the norm, but for the DePaul Blue Demons women’s soccer team, the 2016 season follows the norm.

The graduation of Elise Wyatt, Alex Godinez, Brianna Ryce and the most notable change with Sarah Gorden playing for the Chicago Red Stars in the National Women’s Soccer League.

On the flip side, the addition of Kentucky transfer and fifth-year senior Kelli Hubly, along with Preseason All-BIG EAST selections senior Abby Reed, junior Alexa Ben and sophomore Franny Cerny will be counted on to provide stability for the Blue Demons.

Hubly’s move from the Southeastern Conference back home to the Chicagoland area (Elk Grove, IL) in the BIG EAST for her final season has been aided with redshirting last season and getting the opportunity to be one of the leaders for DePaul this season.

“It has been nice being back home over the last season, but it is very easy being able to finally play for DePaul this season," Hubly said. "The chemistry has been amazing in terms of being able to get along with each other on and off the field."

Cerny led the returning players for DePaul with 17 points last season, while Ben accounted for seven assists and Reed led DePaul last season in game-winning goals with three and hopes the clutch genes will rub off on her teammates.

"When you are an underclassman, you look up to the older players to lead and coming into that position now, you have to depend on the ability to inspire other people because other players will start looking up to you and not the other way around," Reed said.

Blue Demons coach Erin Chastain likes the progress of the young team throughout the summer practices.

“The focus has really been coming together as a team with chemistry given it is a small roster,” Chastain said. "It is a tight group and they all play for each other."

DePaul will look to build upon a second-place finish in the BIG EAST in 2015 (6-1-2, 20 points) and use its season-ending first-round loss in the conference tournament to Providence as motivation as Chastain acknowledged free kicks and corner kicks being DePaul's achilles heel last season and has made it a priority in the off-season.

“We talked about being more disciplined in those key moments of games, whether it is a defensive corner kick or a defensive set piece, it is about taking ownership of whatever your role is,” Chastain said. "It is something we will continue to emphasize with our group as the season approaches."

Before diving into BIG EAST play on Sept. 25 at home against Xavier, DePaul’s non-conference slate features four NCAA Tournament teams from last season, highlighted by the season opener at Wish Field on Aug. 19 against Fordham and a home meeting against crosstown rival Northwestern six days later.

"Obviously, our group will only be focused on the Fordham game for the next week. Our schedule does include some challenging teams like Northwestern and William & Mary," Chastain said. "Fordham also had a great season in 2015 also, so the idea is to challenge our group and see where we will be once conference play starts up."

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