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Freshman Alexa Ben assists in historic season for DePaul women’s soccer

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Freshman midfielder Alexa Ben sets up a cross for her teammate against Creighton at Wish Field. (Maggie Gallagher / The DePaulia)

Freshman midfielder Alexa Ben (left) sets up a cross for her teammate against Creighton at Wish Field. (Maggie Gallagher / The DePaulia)

DePaul women’s soccer head coach Erin Chastain said that they were “looking for someone who could make an immediate impact offensively.”

With eight goals and nine assists secured already 26 games into the 2014 season, freshman midfielder Alexa Ben has been that someone.

Ben stepped onto the Blue Demon roster this year in her first collegiate season and has so far been an important cog in the undefeated DePaul offense. Aside from the goals and assists, Ben earned Big East Rookie of the Week honors three times and was honored this past week as the Top Drawer Soccer National Player of the Week, as well as Big East Rookie and Offensive Player of the Week.

“She keeps getting better and better as the season goes on,” Chastain said.

Originally from Schaumburg, Ben came into DePaul as a four-star recruit, earning a 2012 All-Area selection and 2011 All-Conference selection. Part of her decision to come to DePaul was its closeness to her hometown. From there, it was all about meshing well with the coaching staff.

“It was close to home, and I thought it would be a great opportunity for me,” she said. “I loved the coaching staff right when I first met them and thought it would be a great fit.”

The feeling was mutual among the coaching staff.

“She’s really fun to coach,” Chastain said. “She has a great personality on and off the field.”

The National Player of the Week honor came after she had two goals and two assists, including the dramatic game-winning overtime goal at Marquette University  Oct. 19.

“It was the first time that the seniors had beaten Marquette and I was so happy to be part of that,” Ben said. “It was a very exciting moment for all of us.”

The Marquette win pushed DePaul to a 13-0-3 record and to the top of the Big East standings. As one of only two undefeated teams left in the nation, DePaul is facing tough competition each and every match.

“Since we’re undefeated every team wants to beat us so every team has that motivation to hand us that first loss,” Ben said. “They come out each match with that motivation so we have to match that energy.”

Adjusting to a collegiate level of play is tough enough but making that adjustment while every team is gunning to take an undefeated team down adds an entirely knew element.

“It’s been a battle,” Ben said. “Every game has been tougher and tougher as we wind down and every team is just so close to making it to the tournament,

One thing Ben has learned from her veteran through all of the adjustments is to simply take one game at a time.”

“Just focus one game at a time and don’t let a moment pass by because it passes by in the blink of an eye,” She said.

One aspect of Ben’s game that has earned her many of her assists this season has been her vision in picking out the forwards.

“It kind of just happens,” She said. “I feel like Abby (Reed), Elise (Wyatt) and Amber (Paul) are part of that too when they make their runs attacking. I just draw defenders in, get them open give them the ball and they always do well with it.”

Adjusting to playing with two good scorers in Abby Reed and Elise Wyatt, both with ten goals on the year, came naturally, according to Ben.

“As soon as we stepped out on the field we just clicked,” She said. “It wasn’t hard playing with them it just came natural to all of us.”

Ben is able to accomplish these feats from the midfield despite being quite small. She is only 5-feet tall but uses speed and ball skills to compensate.

“I get crushed a lot. I feel like when people see me they just want to hit me,” She said. “Overall it’s not that bad.”

With three more years of eligibility left after this year, Ben is poised to become a player that does more than make an immediate impact, as Chastain said she wanted in her.

“I wanted to come in and make a difference for the team and I feel like I have,” Ben said. “I thought I would come in and play and not do as well as I have and I’m so thankful for how I’ve played, my teammates and the coaching staff I have.”

“Since we’re undefeated, every team wants to beat us, so every team has that motivation to hand us that first loss,” Ben said. “They come out each match with that motivation so we have to match that energy.”

Adjusting to a collegiate level of play is tough enough, but making that adjustment while every team is gunning to take an undefeated team down adds an entirely knew element.

“It’s been a battle,” Ben said. “Every game has been tougher and tougher as we wind down and every team is just so close to making it to the tournament.”

Ben learned  through all of the adjustments she’s had to make is to simply take challenges as they come.

“Just focus and don’t let a moment pass by because it passes by in the blink of an eye,” she said.

One aspect of Ben’s game that earned her many of her assists this season has been her vision in picking out the forwards.

“It kind of just happens,” she said. “I feel like Abby (Reed), Elise (Wyatt) and Amber (Paul) are part of that too when they make their runs attacking. I just draw defenders in, get them open give them the ball and they always do well with it.”

Adjusting to playing with two good scorers in Reed and Wyatt, both with 10 goals on the year, came naturally, Ben said.

“As soon as we stepped out on the field we just clicked,” she said. “It wasn’t hard playing with them. It just came natural to all of us.”

Wyatt said Ben has been a welcome addition.

“It’s always good when a freshman can come in and change the dynamic of the team,” Wyatt said. “It’s remarkable. She’s such a skilled player and has great vision on the field. Anyone can work with her. She’s just such a versatile player.”

Ben is able to accomplish these feats from the midfield despite being quite short in height. She is only 5 feet tall but uses speed and ball skills to compensate.

“I get crushed a lot. I feel like when people see me they just want to hit me,” she said. “Overall, it’s not that bad.”

Ben also got crushed by her own team when she scored her golden-goal against Marquette with a dog-pile on the celebration that ensued when Ben put  her shot away for the victory.

“I was yelling ‘get off,’ ” Ben said. “I was definitely crunched at the bottom.”

With three more years of eligibility left after this year, Ben is poised to become a player that does more than make an immediate impact, as Chastain said she wanted in her.

“I wanted to come in and make a difference for the team and I feel like I have,” Ben said. “I thought I would come in and play but not do as well as I have and I’m so thankful for how I’ve played, my teammates and the coaching staff I have.”

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Freshman Alexa Ben assists in historic season for DePaul women’s soccer