Photo: DU men’s soccer and women’s volleyball have a good chance for Summit League championships and NCAA repeat appearances this Fall.
It just feels different this year.
Maybe it was the men’s soccer (8-6-0, 3-0-0) 37-game regular season unbeaten streak being snapped, the women’s soccer team (8-8-1, 4-2-0) getting throttled by rival CU 6-1 at home or women’s volleyball (15-5, 6-2) falling at home during the Denver Invitational championship finals against San Diego State. Plus, it feels like there have been scheduling gaps where DU teams and fans can’t get into a rhythm.
But, DU remains in the hunt for several league titles.
The regular season is important in Summit League because regular season champions get to host the league championship on their own campuses the following year. And, of course, regular season standings set-up the playoff brackets for the end-of-season Summit League tournament championships and NCAA auto-bids.
Photo: DU women’s soccer throttled Western Illinois 5-0 Sunday
Last season, Denver volleyball won the regular season and the Summit League tournament. Men’s soccer tied with Omaha during the regular season but Omaha won hosting duties because they had the tie-breaker (goals scored). DU went on to win the league tournament and make a successful NCAA run. And, DU women’s soccer failed to win either the Summit league or the Summit League tournament which were won by North Dakota State University.
Two out of three fall championships this year is very possible – with an outside chance of all three going to the NCAA tournament.
DU men’s soccer has the best chance at winning a regular season championship. With only two conference games left, Jamie Franks Denver (3-0-0 Summit) side has a highlight match coming up next weekend against rival Omaha (1-0-2) and finish out the regular season on the road against Western Illinois (2-1-0). Simply put, win the next two conference games – win the title outright. But, even more challenging this year, regardless of conference finish, the Pioneers will have to earn an NCAA title bid on Omaha Maverick turf at the Summit League Championships November 9th – 11th.
Head Coach Tom Hogan’s young DU women’s volleyball (6-2 Summit) team are having a very good fall and are picking up momentum and confidence by winning five out of their last six matches – but it won’t be easy. DU trails Oral Roberts by one game and is tied with North Dakota State and South Dakota. The good news is that they have four straight matches at home to include crucial matches against both Oral Roberts and North Dakota State. If DU can takes care of business, they finish with two-games on the road that include league favorite South Dakota on November 10th. Our best guess is that this match will pose league regular season championship implications. Then, DU will return to Denver to host the Summit League Championships with a solid home court advantage at Hamilton Gym November 17th – 19th.
Women’s soccer (4-2 Summit) is the most unpredictable of all the DU fall sports, unable to string no more than two consecutive wins at any time all season. Jeff Hooker’s squad came into the season as the league favorite but are currently tied with Oral Roberts in third place, trailing South Dakota State (5-0) and North Dakota State (5-1) with one game to play. Denver’s final match against Fort Wayne does not involve a match against any of the teams above them so it is unlikely that DU can jump up to first place. Then, the Pioneers will travel to Fargo North Dakota November 2nd – 4th with a lower seed and must win on the road if they want to advance to the NCAA tournament.
If the Pioneers can pull off at least two NCAA appearances this fall, they will repeat last year’s results.