Blue Demons Reach Pinnacle of BIG EAST Success
DePaul athletics reached the pinnacle of its BIG EAST Conference success with back-to-back triumphs last Saturday that culminated its greatest season.
The Blue Demon softball team won the BIG EAST tournament at The Ballpark at Rosemont with an 8-3 victory over St. John's, and seven minutes later, the DePaul men's track team was officially crowned BIG EAST track and field champion at Villanova Stadium.
That gave DePaul athletics programs six BIG EAST regular-season or conference tournament titles in the 2016-17 season.
"It is stunning for one school in a single athletic conference to have this many wins in one year," says the Rev. Dennis H. Holtschneider, C.M., president of DePaul. "It must be one of our best athletic showings in DePaul history."
The women's soccer team launched this championship run last fall after claiming a share of the BIG EAST regular-season title. Leading the way were third-team All-American Alexa Ben and BIG EAST Offensive Player of the Year Abby Reed.
Women's basketball followed up with a regular-season conference title behind the outstanding play of honorable mention All-Americans Jessica January and Brooke Schulte, who was also named BIG EAST Player of the Year. The Blue Demons competed in their 15th consecutive NCAA tournament - one of only five teams in the nation who can make that claim.
Jacqui Grant was voted Co-Defensive Player of the Year and Tanita Allen won the Sixth Woman award. Schulte was voted Co-Most Improved Player of the Year and joined Grant on the All-BIG EAST First Team. Kelly Campbell was selected to the All-Freshman Team and Doug Bruno was named BIG EAST Coach of the Year.
Men's tennis made program history earning its first No. 1 seed in the BIG EAST tournament. Setting the tone for coach Matt Brothers' team were all-conference performers Nathan de Veer and Alex Galoustian.
Women's tennis captured the BIG EAST tournament title for the third time in program history. All-BIG EAST performers Yuliya Shupenia, Keisha Clousing and Patricia Lancranjan led DePaul to its fourth appearance in the NCAA tournament and Ardizzone was honored as BIG EAST Coach of the Year for the third time.
Men's track had an absolutely break-out season, winning both the BIG EAST Indoor Championship and the Outdoor Championship for the first time.
At the indoor conference meet in February at the Ocean Breeze Athletic Complex in Staten Island, N.Y., the Blue Demons outscored Marquette 146-135 to claim the title. Trevor Kintyhtt was named the Men's Most Outstanding Field Performer after winning the weight throw, while teammate Kyle Hedge won the shot put.
Sebastian Feyersinger won the men's 400-meter race and Kyle Decker came in first in the 60 meters. Brian Mada repeated as men's triple jump champion. Coach Dave Dopek and his staff - Brandon Murer, Stephanie Townsend, Derrick Peterson - were honored as the BIG EAST Coaching Staff of the Year. A total of 17 student-athletes including 11 men were named to the BIG EAST Men's and Women's Indoor Track & Field All-Conference Team.
Men's track doubled its pleasure last weekend by winning the BIG EAST outdoor meet, outscoring runner-up Marquette 204-183.
Feyersinger was named Co-Most Outstanding Track Performer and Kintyhtt was a unanimous choice for Most Outstanding Field Performer. BIG EAST champions included Feyersinger (200m, 400m), Hedge (shot put), Decker (110m hurdles), Mada (triple jump) and Kintyhtt (discus, hammer).
Dopek and assistant coaches Murer, Peterson and Townsend repeated as the BIG EAST Men's Coaching Staff of the Year.
Behind some big-time clutch hitting Saturday, DePaul softball won its third BIG EAST tournament championship in school history with the 8-3 victory over St. John's and earned an automatic berth to the NCAA tournament. The Blue Demons will open NCAA play Friday, May 19, against regional host Kentucky.
In the championship game, DePaul (29-21) was trailing 2-1 when Haydn Christensen delivered a two-out, two-run single to highlight a three-run fifth inning and seize a 4-2 lead. After St. John's pulled within 4-3, Alysia Rodriguez came through with a two-run triple down the right-field line in the bottom of the sixth inning. Sabrina Kuchta's two-run single through the right side capped off a four-run outburst.
Jessica Cothern was named BIG EAST Freshman of the Year and selected to the All-BIG EAST First Team along with teammates Micah Fitzgerald, Nicole Pihl and Missy Zoch. Tournament MVP Dylan Christensen, Pihl, Haydn Christensen and Zoch were selected to the all-tournament team.