Sep 5, 2013
CHICAGO - The Blue Demons will be back on the attack Friday when they welcome perennial Horizon League champion Milwaukee to Wish Field for a 4 p.m. nonconference match.
During its current three-game winning streak, DePaul (3-1-0) has scored 10 goals. Coach Erin Chastain has made a concerted effort this season to bolster the team in the attacking third.
"Our offense has a lot of different people contributing including the starters and reserves," Chastain said. "Our three-forward front (Elise Wyatt, Erin Pekovitch, Natasa Radosavljevic) has helped generate more scoring chances.
"There's a nice mixture of five-to-six players going on up there, and the level doesn't drop when we sub in. It's a good starting point for the season."
Wyatt, a sophomore who was invited to the Canadian U-20 Women's National Team Camp last spring, leads the Blue Demons with three goals and seven points. Radosavljevic and freshman forward Ana Greik each has two goals and five points. Forward MaryKate Cicinelli and midfielder Ashleigh Goddard have one goal and one assist.
"We used the three-forward formation in my early days at DePaul," Chastain said. "The last couple years, we've talked about going with different formations. This formation we're using works best for this group.
"When I was an assistant coach at Santa Clara, we used a 4-3-3 formation. It's pretty standard, and a lot of colleges go with that."
There have been some rapid rewards from the offensive adjustment.
"Our goal production is nice for the team's confidence," Chastain said. "That will help on Friday when we face a traditional soccer power in Milwaukee. This will be the best team we have faced this season."
The Panthers have been to the NCAA Championship tournament five consecutive years and have made 10 overall appearances. They are off to a 0-4-0 start that includes a 3-0 loss to No. 11/15 Michigan. The other losses have come to Michigan State, Indiana and Miami (Fla.) in double overtime.
"I'm looking for our group to respond to the challenge," Chastain said. "It's a good test as we prepare for the BIG EAST Conference season. Milwaukee has a history of winning the conference title and qualifying for the NCAA tournament."
A revamped back line of Kylie Nordness, Rachel Pitman, Brianna Ryce and Nina Kodros has been evolving into a cohesive group.
"We have a new back line this year, and with each game our players are looking more like a unit while learning to play together and for each other," Chastain said. "They were really solid on Sunday. We limited College of Charleston's run-of-play chances, and I was happy with that.
"During the last three games, our players have been very receptive to feedback. They have stayed strong despite having our first three games on the road. It's a grind getting adjusted to different playing surfaces, traveling and not sleeping in your own bed. They've been able to make all the adjustments.
"I'm also proud of the way our group has handled some early-season adversity. No matter what has come our way, they have been able to deal with it.
"We came out and had a great start to our home season on Sunday."