DU head coaches Jamie Franks for men’s soccer and Tom Hogan for women’s volleyball are determined to take on the toughest schedule possible to position their squads for national recognition. This fall could be history making for both programs as they look to not only make the NCAA tournament again but take the next step.
The Pioneers are growing powers in both sports . Look as recently as last year, USA Today added DU men’s soccer as the 4th best program in the country overall – and this was before their undefeated regular season. Women’s volleyball posted impressive school-record 27 consecutive win seasons but their RPI has suffered due to strength of schedule. Both teams recently announced schedules that open up the possibility of new heights – but it won’t be easy.
The men’s soccer program, led by one of the brightest young college soccer coaches in America, Jamie Franks, just announced a killer pre-conference schedule. No longer satisfied to stack up wins (15-0-3/2015-2016), they are taking on some of college soccer’s blue bloods. With only six league conference games on their schedule, the team is ready to go national after three consecutive trips to the NCAA playoffs. Ciber field mark-your-calendar games include guests St. Louis, North Florida, New Mexico and Portland. Then, Rutgers and Northwestern out of the Big 10 and national soccer powerhouse Creighton on the road. As the only D1 undefeated soccer team last year, DU is no longer satisfied to win the Summit and be one and done.
The Pioneers lose two excellent players (midfielder Jordan Schweitzer and goalie Dan Jackson) from last years squad but counter with 5 new players – one a goalie – local Will Palmquist, two defenders and two midfielder – all highly decorated products from the Colorado Rapids Academy, Seattle Sounders Academy and other top state and club programs.
Not to be outdone, women’s volleyball, coming off a 27-8 record in 2015-2016, are upping their game as well.
Women’s volleyball plays majors Michigan State, Florida, and regional power San Diego State University on the road. Home games pit the Pioneers against Loyola Marymount, Utah State, and Georgetown and then, 16 matches in-conference game in the Summit. With the graduation of one senior, Sarah Schmid, the squad added some size in Californian Shannon Geraty a 6-foot-4 middle blocker and outside hitter for the USA national team pipeline. Hannah Erwin is a 5-foot-11 setter out of volleyball hotbed Houston where she was District Setter of the Year and a Greater Houston All-Star in addition to being team captain and MVP.
Both teams could make history in 2016-2017 with loaded squads and aggressive schedules. Making the NCAA’s is still the main objective but advancing past the first round is a realistic possibility for one or both teams.
Fall used to be the time when fans waited for hockey to begin – not anymore.