DePaul women’s soccer wasn’t expecting to go on the road for the first round of the NCAA tournament, but when the selection show revealed that DePaul would be headed to Wisconsin this weekend, the Blue Demons were ready to play.
“We all thought that we should be playing at home,” Athletic Director Jean Lenti-Ponsetto said in a speech to the crowd gathered at McGrath-Phillips Arena. “Nobody can ever take away from you what you’ve accomplished this year, you’ve done an amazing job.”
The Blue Demons, fresh off a Big East Conference Championship in both the tournament and the regular season. DePaul won the Big East tournament with a win over Georgetown on Sunday.
“I think we all kind of expected we would host first round and have our home field advantage,” junior forward and captain Elise Wyatt said. “We had a great season and I think we feel cheated a bit but that fires us up a little bit more.”
Wyatt said that going on the road will give them some extra fire going into the game.
“I think we’re going to have some blood and fight and edge to prove to everyone that we deserve to be hosting first round,” she said. “That we are that good to deserve that.”
Head coach Erin Chastain also felt like the team expected to be hosting a first round game, but also expressed the humility of the team just being in the tournament.
“At the end of the day, we’re happy that we’re playing,” Chastain said. “Certainly Wisconsin is an easy trip for us and a team we’ve seen play quite a bit just following the Big Ten so we’ll be really excited for the opportunity to play them.”
This echoed some of the sentiment from Lenti-Ponsetto’s speech, in which she expressed the fact that the team was in the tournament to begin with.
“Right now, there are about 280 teams who would love to be sitting in our position, who’d like to be having a party to celebrate what their team accomplished,” she said.
DePaul will play Wisconsin at 7:30 p.m. in Madison, Wisc., marking their second straight year they have made the NCAA tournament. In 2013, they went on the road to face a Big Ten team again, losing 1-0 at Indiana.
I think last year we were a little more timid in the sense that this was the first NCAA appearance in a very long time,” Wyatt said. “So I think going into this first round we’re a little more prepared.”
The Blue Demons finished the year undefeated with a 16-0-4. They won both the Big East regular season and Big East tournament titles for the first time in program history, as well as being awarded Big East coaching staff of the year, Alexa Ben winning Big East rookie of the year and numerous other individual awards.
Lenti-Ponsetto closed her speech with the historical importance of this season.
“You’ve written a new chapter in DePaul soccer history and I hope you take that up to Madison this weekend to show the Big Ten what the Big East is all about,” Lenti-Ponsetto said.