On Saturday, Oct. 28, Men’s Soccer hosted University of Nebraska Omaha for their Senior Night. The Pioneers equalized late in the match with 16 seconds left and scored on a penalty in the 93rd minute to keep their record perfect. The Pioneers are currently first in the Summit League with a perfect record of 4-0-0, and need a point at their game next week at Western Illinois University in order to take first seed in the 2017 Summit League Men’s Soccer Tournament. They will also receive the right to host the 2018 Summit League Men’s Soccer Championships.
Throughout the first half, Denver created excellent opportunities offensively as they outshot Omaha 8-2. However, the game remained tied at 0-0 until the 78th minute, when the visitors scored the first goal of the game off of a long throw.
Following the goal, the Pioneers stepped up their efforts and junior Andre Shinyashiki (Sao Paulo, Brazil) headed in a cross from freshman Jacob Stensson (Stockholm, Sweden) in the last 16 seconds of the game to tie the game and bring it to overtime.
“It felt amazing, especially the way it happened, scoring with 16 seconds left against our biggest rivals in the league,” Shinyashiki said after the game. “I was the guy that missed my man on their goal, so I felt that I needed to do that to help the team.”
In overtime, the Pioneers continued with their momentum as they tried to end the game as early as possible. They were rewarded in the 93rd minute when a penalty was awarded to Denver after an Omaha handball occurred in the box. Senior co-captain, Graham Smith (Highlands Ranch, Colo.) was able to convert the penalty shot and help preserve the Pioneer’s perfect record in the Summit League.
Seniors Blake Elder (Fort Worth, Texas), AJ Fuller (Littleton, Colo.), senior co-captain Alex Underwood (Winnetka, Ill.) and Smith, as well as former Pioneer Kortne Ford (Greeley, Colo.) were honored before the match. During their time with the Pioneers, the seniors helped lead the program to its first College Cup appearance in school history, as well as back-to-back undefeated regular seasons (2015-2016), and three straight NCAA tournament appearances and three straight Summit League regular season and tournament titles.
Besides their postseason success, the seniors have compiled impressive accomplishments during their Denver careers. Elder made the 2016 Summit League Second Team. He has appeared in 24 matches, starting 13 of them as a striker in 2016. Fuller has appeared in 70 games with 50 starts. Underwood was selected to the Nov. 22, 2016 Top Drawer Team of the week as well as the 2017 Top Drawer Soccer Midseason 100. Smith made the 2016 Summit League Second Team as well as the Sept. 28, 2016 College Soccer News National Team of the Week. During his time with the Pioneers, Ford was selected for the Top Drawer Soccer Second Team All-American selection.
The Pioneers will close out their regular season next Saturday, Nov. 4 against Western Illinois. If they win a single point in the match, they will secure the number one seed in the Summit League Tournament.