There was nothing in any coaching manual that could have prepared Bradley men's coach Jim DeRose for the 2007 season.
On the eve of preseason practice, Bradley player Danny Dahlquist, whose father Craig is an assistant athletic director at the university, died of carbon monoxide poisoning in a house fire set after a prank went awry. Three of his roommates, all Bradley teammates, were charged with arson.
Soccer, says DeRose, became his players' two hours respite of refuge each day. No, the season wasn't fun, but the Braves thrived.
DeRose, Soccer America's 2007 Men's Coach of the Year, guided the Braves to their most successful season in the program's 21-year history.
Bradley made it all the way to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Division I Tournament in a remarkable postseason run that include winning a Missouri Valley title and upsetting former national champions Indiana and Maryland, all on the road.
In the Maryland game, the Braves came back from two goals down in the last three minutes of regulation to win in overtime.
Bradley finished with a school-record 16 wins in 2007.