DePaul women’s soccer work to follow up on successful 2013

DePaul women’s soccer is busy this offseason preparing to come out strong in 2014 after reaching the NCAA tournament in 2013.

The team lost to Indiana in the first round in a frustrating 1-0 loss, but junior defender Rachel Pittman is ready to take that experience from the tournament and put it to use next season.

“I think it’s taking our experience from reaching the NCAA and becoming a team that is now comfortable on the ball and comfortable with ourselves rather than being the underdogs,” Pittman said. “We now believe that we’re up there with everybody else.”

The Blue Demons are currently in the midst of their spring training, working on individual training within their units. The defenders are working with some of the midfielders and the forwards are working with the other midfielders to work on positioning and shooting skills, Pittman said.

The team will then come together for spring games, playing against area college teams like Northwestern. They also played a match against National Women’s Soccer League team the Chicago Red Stars, a team that features several international players for the United States and Canada.

“We have a spring game, then we look at the tape and we determine what we need to get better at,” Nina Kodros, a junior defender, said. “I feel like the team is looking great.”

DePaul recently had a match with Northwestern in which they won 3-1, an offensive performance that, Kodros said, is a turnaround from the defensive style of play that the Blue Demons used in their 2013 campaign.

Heading into the summer, the Blue Demons will work with their own clubs or they will play with other top-level college athletes, such as Pittman and Elise Wyatt. The two will be playing for the Sounders Women, an affiliate of Major League Soccer club Seattle Sounders FC. They will play in the W-League, a developmental league that is a part of the United Soccer League.

“It’s really good experience for us because we’re playing with most of the top players around America,” Pittman said. “It’s going to be really fun.”

It will be a contrast for Pittman, who is used to having to train on her own during the summer since her home in Bristol, England has leagues that are usually on break during the summer.

“It’s going to be so beneficial,” she said. “I feel like I don’t start to play my best until the Big East games start, which is not good enough, so I’m excited to be match fit and match ready as soon as preseason starts.”

As for other players, most will be playing on club teams around the nation so that they continue to stay match fit throughout the summer.

“I’ll be playing for a team in Libertyville, Ill. and then we have our own conditioning that we have to do on the side,” Kodros said. “It’s not like we’re building fitness over the summer but, rather, maintaining it from the spring and the winter.”