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Things do not get much easier for the women’s soccer team in the bulk of Big East play this weekend, as 9-0-2 DePaul rolls into South Orange Thursday. DePaul is ranked No. 15 in the Soccer America Women’s top-25.
The mission statement for head coach Rick Stainton’s team? Simply, make the statement for yourselves on the field.
“We have the perfect opportunity ahead of us to make the statement that we’ve been talking about and wanted to do all season long, to prove to not only ourselves but to others out there that we’re a very competitive team capable of doing very good things against top teams in the country,” Stainton said.
Stainton’s Pirates have not scored a goal in just under two weeks, when the offense exploded for three goals in a Sept. 19 win over LIU Brooklyn. Since then, the offense has gone rather stale, dropping back-to-back games in shutout fashion to Providence and Butler respectively.
The Pirates will have to fix the offensive woes against a DePaul team with 28 goals scored on the season compared to just 13 goals allowed. Against DePaul, the Pirates are going to have to score.
“Everything is always a team concept,” Stainton said when asked how his team can fix offensive struggles. “It’s obviously gaining possession of the ball and taking good care of it in regards to the attack and making sure that we can combine to get numbers around and provide ourselves with good opportunities.”
The Pirates’ defense has been a silver lining for the blue and white this season—a defense that has surrendered 11 goals all season. However, DePaul is led by sophomore Abby Reed and junior Elise Wyatt, whose eight goals apiece are tied for seventeenth in the country.
“Every game is important to us and we work very hard at understanding how our approach is going to be and what is important for us to be successful,” Stainton said. “I think when we actually see those things come to fruition, those little goals we set for ourselves, our confidence builds. Every game for us is one of those we look to approach to gain more confidence.”
Whether or not those things come to fruition Thursday night is a different question. Coach Stainton said the preparation for DePaul in practice this week has also not changed.
“Every environment for training is something where we identify some of our strengths or where we’re a little bit weak and we try to correct it, so every training session we try to implement things that will help us be successful,” he added.
First kick is set for 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 2. DePaul is currently riding a program-best eleven game unbeaten streak.
David Heim can be reached at email@example.com or on twitter @Davidheim12.