Photo: Pioneers warm-up for the visiting Portland Pilots
While the night was played even-up on the scoreboard through two halves and two overtimes, #6 Denver (15-0-3) played the aggressor. As time wound down in the 2nd OT, Portland (11-4-1) seemed content to fall back and play for the draw on the pressing Pioneers. Then, suddenly, with less than three minutes to go in the game, DU’s Andre Shinyashiki owned the moment with an incredible double move and golden goal leading the Pioneers to a heart stopping 2-1 win in double OT.
The Pioneers came out with a more aggressive approach Thursday night in front of an unusually large crowd at CIBER Field. Looking for the counter, the long ball, and aggressive defense, the Pioneers controlled the tempo of the game. They were intent on polishing off the visiting Portland Pilots (11-3-1) who were enjoying a 7-game winning streak and stood between Denver and the Pioneers second consecutive undefeated season.
At the 37 minute mark of the first half, Portland struck quickly on a 3-man counter fast break with a close-in shot in front of the Denver goal to take a 1-0 lead. The Pilots goal was made by Gio Magana-Rivera and assisted by Benji Michel. The Pioneers stayed composed, trailing for only the second time this season. Eight minutes later, with only 34 seconds remaining in the first half, Denver countered with a header goal by Andre Shinyashiki on a ball from Karsten Hanlin. The Pioneers finished the half leading in shots 5-2 but the teams were dead locked at 1-1.
The second half continued with a slight edge to Denver. Neither team was able to find the back of the net but Denver continued to pressure the ball. Denver had several corner kicks and set plays in the half but could not deliver the tie breaker.
Denver was the aggressor both of the 10 minute overtimes as Portland played a defensive game while Denver pushed the pace. Then, with only 2:54 remaining in the second overtime, Andre Shinyashiki took the game into his own hands. Receiving the ball at the left side of the box, he dribbled through two defenders and rifled a rising shot inside the box past the keeper. Andre’s golden goal (below) ended the game, 2-1 – and of course, he was mobbed by his teammates.
Even if the game would have ended in a tie, Denver showed more aggressiveness and creativity this match than they had shown in recent Summit League matches. This game put the Pioneers in ideal position heading into the Summit League playoffs November 10th & 12th at CIBER Field.