Victoria Valenzuela | Clarion

On Saturday, Nov. 4, the Women’s Soccer Team won their first Summit League Tournament Title since 2013 with a 2-1 win over North Dakota State. Summit League Offensive Player of the Year, Jessie Dancy (Park City, Utah) scored in the first half, opening up the scoring. Following an equalizer off a penalty in the 82nd minute, Summit League Tournament MVP Angelica Pacheco (Taos, N.M.) scored in the 85th minute to secure the title for the Pioneers.

The Pioneers defeated third-seeded Oral Roberts on Thursday afternoon 1-0. Dancy scored in the first minute, and keeper, Brittany Wilson (Littleton, Colo.) had her fifth shut-out of the season. This win advanced No. 2 seed Denver to the finals against North Dakota State.

During the final game against North Dakota State, Dancy opened up scoring when she scored her 14th goal of the season in the 32nd minute off an assist from Summit League Freshman of the year, Meg Halvorson (Englewood, Colo). Riley Welch (Littleton, Colo.) made a run inside to the top of the defense, passing it to Halverson, who played a sharp cross on the ground to Dancy to open up the scoring.

Head Coach Jeff Hooker said, “The first goal we scored was really nice. A lot of little things went to putting everyone in the right position to execute that piece of play. Riley [Welch] was the catalyst for that goal, getting the ball across the field into open space. All the touches after that were absolutely perfect, and it was a pretty goal, perfect for this occasion. It was almost like a pattern you would do in practice in the build-up.”

During the second half of the game, North Dakota State increased the pressure, and were rewarded when keeper, Wilson, tripped a striker in the box in the 83rd minute. In the resulting penalty, North Dakota scored.

“Mark [Cook] is a great coach, so we knew they would come up with something different in the second half,” Hooker said. “They put a little more pressure on us than we could handle, and we wilted a bit to be honest. We stopped doing the little things and they were able to break us down and get the penalty.”

Following the equalizer, the Pioneers put up greater pressure offensively and were rewarded when Pacheco won the ball in the 85th minute, brought it around the keeper and scored the game-winner in the center of the empty net. Hooker said, “Angelica was aggressive, won the ball and did a nice job of touching it around the keeper and calmly finishing it.”

“This one [league title]means a heck of a lot. After the last couple of years, we put a process in place in the spring and the summer called ‘The Page,’ and to see this team go through that process and achieve their goal, I’m just so proud of them. To go through a really tough non-conference schedule like we did, the team could have gotten away from that and not believed. To go through our entire league schedule and only be trailing in regulation one time all season, at Fort Wayne which is a match we won, is a testament to this team for their hard work. I think by them trusting in the process that process sometimes comes back and rewards you like it did today,” Hooker said following the match.

Not only were the Pioneers awarded with their hard work on the field with the championship, but their accomplishments on and off the field were honored during the 2017 Summit League Women’s Soccer Championship Banquet with seven players taking home awards and recognition. Senior co-captain Makenzie Bothner (Park City, Utah), sophomore Hannah Adler (Oak Park, Calif.) and Dancy were named to the Summit League first team. Halvorson, Wilson and freshman centerback Taylor Parker (Aurora, Colo.) were named to the Summit League Second Team. Additionally, Parker and Halvorson were joined by holding midfielder Brittney Lewis (Centennial, Colo) and striker Macee Barlow (Las Vegas, Nev.) on the 2017 Summit League All-Freshman Team.

Dancy won the Summit League Offensive Player of the Year after winning the league’s golden boot race by three goals. She has scored 12 goals in the 2017 regular season, and followed it up with a goal in the Nov. 2 semifinal win over Oral Roberts and a goal in the title game. Along with her goals and two assists, Dancy has 26 points this season, the highest goal and point total since Kristen Hamilton in 2013. This season, she has had four game winning goals, one game-tying goals and opened up scoring six times.

Halvorson tallied 11 points on five goals and an assist in her first season of college soccer. Two of her goals have opened the scoring, and one was a game-winner. She is tied for seventh in the league in goals scored and points.

With their win, the Pioneers are headed to the NCAA Tournament where they will play University of Colorado-Boulder at Boulder, on Nov. 11 in the first round.