Caitlin Gannam | Clarion

The women’s soccer team finished their season on Nov. 12 with a record of 11-9-1, after winning the Summit League Tournament Title and appearing the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2013. The Pioneers took a first-half lead, but University of Colorado at Boulder answered in the second half with two goals, to give Boulder the 2-1 lead.

Junior forward Leah Swander (Grand Junction, Colo.) scored Denver’s only goal of the game in the 38th minute off a pass from sophomore Hannah Adler (Oak Park, Calif.). Adler, a Summit League First Team selection, received the ball in the middle of the field and passed it to Swander behind the Buffs defensive line, who made the goals to put Denver up 1-0.

In the second half, Colorado took five shots in the first seven minutes and scored on two of their chances. They equalized the game in the 50th minute, and in the 52nd minute picked up the 2-1 advantage.

In the 69th minute, sophomore keeper Brittany Wilson (Littleton, Colo.) made an impressive diving save to keep Colorado from scoring another goal.

In the 86th minute, a chance at equalizing the game came for the Pioneers when a shot from Swander hit the crossbar. Senior Angelica Pacheco (Taos, N.M.) followed up on the chance, but could not reach it before the Colorado keeper grabbed it.

“Coming off the Summit League Championships, I thought we had a lot of confidence, and it really showed in the first half,”  Head Coach Jeff Hooker said following the game. “I thought that we had our way in the midfield for a majority of the first half, and we just went away from the movement and other stuff that made us successful. I think we lost our patience a little bit at the beginning of the second half, and missed the simple pass, giving them a few more opportunities. Obviously we’re disappointed in the result, but I thought the team put in a performance to be proud of today.”

This year was the first year since 2013 where the women’s soccer team made it to the NCAA tournament. This was the longest drought that the program had experienced since turning Division 1 in 1998.

“You get spoiled when the expectation of the program there for a while was to compete for an at-large bid every year,” Hooker said. “When it’s taken away from you, you count on your seniors to get you back. They did a really good job of leading this team in the summer and over the course of the fall season. We had two bad defeats, at Santa Barbara and against Colorado, and we did a good job of staying the course and not losing our focus. I’m proud of this group for getting back to the NCAA Tournament. They represented us well today. When you’re out of the tournament for a few years it reminds you how special it is to get to the postseason.”