After wrapping up spring games on May 7, the DePaul women’s soccer team is already eager to take the pitch again in August in preparation for the 2016-17 season.
“I think as the season has come to a close, obviously we’re tired,” sophomore midfielder Lucy Edwards said. “I think we’re just more focused on training for the summer and getting in shape starting now so we don’t have to work as hard when we’re not on campus.”
The women will not be together the whole time during the summer, so a productive spring season was vital to setting them up for success once the fall comes.
“Going forward, I think we’re focusing on individually what we need to do to make the team whole when we come back in August,” junior forward Abby Reed said. “It’s just everyone focusing on themselves right now.”
The Blue Demons had some difficult opposition in the spring games, but the Mexico U-20 Women’s National Team who were preparing for the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in Papua New Guinea this winter, were without a doubt their toughest opponent. DePaul pulled off a draw against El Tri with a last-gasp goal by freshman Franny Cerny.
“It was really different because they’re (an) international (team) and they’re just very technical and have been playing together for a very long time,” Reed said. “In the first half we struggled and in the second half we really pulled together and scored our goal with 30 seconds left and it was just great combination play. It just showed that we never gave up throughout the game and just kept the pressure on them.”
As Reed said, the team pulling together late against Mexico was crucial to their success and she feels this is one area they’re improved the most in the spring season.
“Our team chemistry overall (improved),” Reed said. “In the fall, that’s something that we lacked and I think that as a team we’ve just come together a lot more in the spring, and I think everyone has taken a huge part in that and that’s just something we really needed to focus on that we really hammered down.”
“You can tell by our possession now and our passing and our movement that we have more team chemistry,” Edwards said. “We just know what each other is going to do — it’s just easier.”
Edwards, as the dominant force in the midfield, wants to see herself grow on the field and get on the scoreboard more, be it though assists or goals. But her main goal of growth can’t be measured statistically.
“(I want) to be more of a leader on the team and just have a presence on the field that I didn’t have this past fall,” Edwards said.
As for Reed, she just wants to score more and play better than she did last season. She felt her game was somewhat off last season and wants to return to “being a pain for the defense on the other team.”
The team goal is simple: reach the Big East tournament.
“Looking back to two years ago going undefeated and doing everything, it’s just hard to compare to,” Reed said. “I think if we just start slow and just try to make the Big East tournament and go from there … (we won’t) get ahead of ourselves.”
Having to replace the program’s leading goal scorer Elise Wyatt, current professional soccer player for the Chicago Red Stars Sarah Gorden, defender Brianna Ryce and goalkeeper Alex Godinez won’t be easy, but luckily for the Blue Demons they have loads of young talent.
“Our group focused on establishing our identity and just coming together as a new team,” Chastain told DePaul Athletics. “Anytime you lose seniors, you become a different team and new people have to step up and lead. We just really focused on the chemistry of the new group.”
Cerny, Reed and last year’s transfer Kelli Hubly can combine to replace Wyatt’s goals, Lauren Frasca will likely replace Godinez in goal and we might see current right back Taylor Schissler moved central and paired with freshman Abigail Callahan to take Gorden and Ryce’s spots at center back.
If this new group can maintain the form they had in the spring games and replace the four starters departing, DePaul could be in a good position to replicate its 2014 season.