The two best teams in the Summit League meet Saturday at 1:00 PM MT @ CIBER Field for the Summit League Championship. The incentive for both teams to win is pretty clear: the winner of the game earns the Summit League’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. On top of that, with a win, the #4 Pioneers, would have a chance to earn home-field advantage for the NCAA Tournament.
Omaha brings a 7-game unbeaten streak and a chip on their shoulder to Denver. The Mavs sit at 10-4-4 while the Pioneers sport a still unblemished 16-0-3 record. The teams played to a 0-0 draw on UNO’s Caniglia Field during the regular season finale a few weeks ago. Now, it’s DU, the defending league champion, who will host.
While the Mavs have scored 15 goals over their streak, the Pioneers have relied on stout defense during their last seven games pitching five shut-outs and allowing just one goal in the other two.
Something has to give on Saturday.
The Mavericks exacted their first level of revenge by winning the tie-breaker for the Summit title which will take the Summit League tournament back to Omaha next season. Then, coming off a convincing semifinal win, 3-0, over a lousy Eastern Illinois side (5-12-1) they can take the ultimate ‘next step’ for their program that sits in the shadows of DU’s undefeated 2-year run.
Denver slipped by Western Illinois in the semis 1-0 on a second-half penalty kick. Clearly, this match was not the Pioneers best effort against the Leathernecks who actually had several chances to score on Denver. DU will need to elevate their game Saturday to hold the Mavericks at bay.
Players from Denver and UNO dominated Summit League soccer awards this season.
University of Denver men’s soccer redshirt-senior right back Reagan Dunk was named the 2016 Summit League Defensive Player of the Year for the second-straight year, redshirt-sophomore Nick Gardner was named the Summit League Goalkeeper of the Year and second-year head coach Jamie Franks earned his second Coach of the Year Award. Junior centerback Kortne Ford, senior captain and defensive midfielder Sam Hamilton and redshirt-senior winger Karsten Hanlin joined Dunk and Gardner on the All-Summit League First Team.
Omaha’s Fazlo Alihodzic captured Offensive Player of the Year honors, while teammate Emmanuel Hamzat earned the Newcomer of the Year award. They were joined on the first team by teammates goal keeper Joseph Ghitis , Jr. and defenseman Seth Rinderknecht.
If you love soccer or just want to watch two very good teams play, you will see two quality sides face-off Saturday with everything on the line.