You probably saw the United Soccer Coaches’ Preseason Poll last week which has the University of Denver men’s soccer team at #3 in the country. Shortly the College Soccer News poll will be released and that will give us another opinion on the upcoming season.
Sure, preseason polls will become meaningless in a few weeks, but the Pioneers being ranked this high is simply incredible, especially after losing two stars to the MLS following last season – Kortne Ford and Sam Hamilton. Add a relative weak RPI conference, The Summit League, into the mix and the Pioneers will face pressure all season long to win games and extend their national profile under head coach Jamie Franks. The Pios last regular season or conference tournament loss was October 31st, 2014 at IUPUI (1-0).
The wait to find out how good the Pioneers will be will be answered early in the year when Akron comes to Denver on August 28th. There are a number of other highlight games as well. Denver faces a solid West Coast Conference member St. Mary’s at home on September 17th. Then, the Crimson and Gold travel to historic soccer power St. Louis University on September 26th. Later, the Pioneer must battle regional rival New Mexico in Albuquerque on October 25th. The non-conference schedule is a grind and features some great early home matchups.
The Pioneers must perform at a high level during this difficult non-conference schedule in order to maintain their solid RPI and keep the regular season unbeaten streak going. Then, of course, they will need to dominate during the Summit League regular season. Finally, they will have to travel to Omaha for the Summit League conference championships and win on the road for a guaranteed NCAA playoff birth. All this while Denver Pioneer soccer profile increases – along with a target on their back.
The season starts August 19th in Colorado Springs against Air Force. Then, the Pioneers have four straight home games for local soccer fans, starting with the Florida Gulf Coast contest August 25th.
If all goes well, the Pioneers will be battling for a berth in chilly Philadelphia in December for another crack at their first national title in soccer.