Through the various forms of precipitation that were being whipped around Wish Field by violent winds, a dog pile was forming at midfield. With a dominating 3-0 victory over St. John’s, DePaul women’s soccer had won their first ever Big East championship and the team was ready to celebrate.
“To win the regular season title on our home field in a resounding win means a lot to me and to our whole team,” head coach Erin Chastain said.
It was fitting conclusion to an already special year. DePaul also clinched the number one seed in next week’s Big East tournament and finished the regular season undefeated with a 15-0-3 record.
Coming into this game, DePaul held the lead in the Big East standings by one point over St. John’s, meaning that they’d win the title with a win or a draw. DePaul would come out strong in the first half, trying to gain an advantage before they had a weather advantage.
“It’s nice to play some of our best soccer even given the tough conditions,” Chastain said. “To create some real, quality chances is a real confidence booster going into the postseason.”
Sophomore forward Abby Reed was a big part in the win, scoring two goals and trying a school record in the process. In her debut season for DePaul after transferring, Reed could never have imagined all the success she and the team have had.
“I had no idea that this was going to happen,” she said. “I knew were going to be a great team but this is phenomenal.”
Attacking against the wind, DePaul was able to take an early advantage in the tenth minute. Senior defender Rachel Pitman lofted in a cross that sophomore forward Abby Reed powered in with a header for the score. It was her eleventh goal of the year and Pitman’s sixth assist.
The Blue Demons almost took a two-goal advantage in the 15th minute following an Amber Paul free kick. Paul shot near post from 23 yards out that was initially blocked by Red Storm keeper Diana Poulin but rebounded into the box, where the Blue Demons were not able to put a shot on frame as it was cleared away.
They would, however, get another goal in the 28th minute. Elise Wyatt got a low cross over to Alexa Ben, who fought a defender and took advantage of an out of position keeper to slot the ball home for the goal. It was Ben’s ninth goal of the year and it put the Demons up 2-0.
The Blue Demons would carry the lead into halftime, giving them an advantage in the second half where they had both the lead and the wind attacking with them at the same time. At this point, DePaul was in control of the game after setting the tempo early.
“We wanted to set the tempo and the energy, that was one of our goals for the game and I thought they absolutely did that,” Chastain said.
Things took a turn for the worse weather-wise in the 55th minute when play had to be stopped due to severe weather in the area. This led to a thirty-minute delay before play was allowed to resume.
The final nail in the coffin was a momentous occasion, giving DePaul a 3-0 lead over the Red Storm. Elise Wyatt sent in a low cross to Alexa Ben, who settled the ball and left it for Abby Reed, who finished it near post for the score. The goal for Reed tied her with Julianne Sitch for most goals in a season at 12.
The play came off of the same unselfish play that had guided DePaul all season to 15 victories, something that was echoed by Reed.
“It’s a good feeling but as long as we’re winning that’s all that matters to me,” she said.
That score line would prove to be the final, giving DePaul the 3-0 victory and the Big East regular season championship.
DePaul heads to the Big East Tournament next week where they will face some of the toughest competition all season. While they do have a number one seed and an undefeated record intact, the unpredictability of the tournament will add a new wrinkle to the competition.
The Big East tournament is a whole new ballgame, it resets at zero,” Chastain said. “I think we’ll be confident about our team and what we can do but we’ll also be realistic and know that no matter who we face it’s going to be a big time battle.”