#1 seed Denver men’s soccer (10-6-1 overall, 5-0-0 Summit) defeated #4 Eastern Illinois (4-8-6 overall, 2-2-1 Summit) on Thursday afternoon Summit League semifinal action.
It was far from ‘the beautiful game’ as Eastern Illinois came out playing a defensive style while Denver took possession and attacked, especially in the first half..
Denver dominated the first half with six shots on goal to one and dominated time-of-possession. The Panthers played a defensive game but Denver created a number of good chances. The Panthers started with a 4-3-3 defense and put the game in the hands of their Summit League goalkeeper of the year Mike Novotny. Blake Elder, Andre Shinyashiki and Jacob Stensson took turns firing at goal while Eastern was content to pull back in the defensive half. The most spectacular chance in the half occurred at 35:08 when a Blake Elder scissor kick in the box was on-frame but stopped by Novotny. But shortly thereafter, at 38:15, DU took command with a quick restart to catch the Panthers off guard as Blake Elder put his second chance past Novotny, DU 1-0.
The first nine minutes of the second half were spent mostly at midfield with the teams trading possessions. At 54:33 of the second half, Shinyashiki dribbled around two defenders and bounced a shot off the right post on a nifty move that almost put DU on the board again. That was it for the rest of the second half as DU controlled the ball and protected their goal the final 10 minutes of the contest. Eastern Illinois could not generate any dangerous opportunities in the final third of the field.
Denver ended the contest with 11 shots, 6 SOG. Eastern Illinois had 5 shots, 2 SOG.
Denver will face #3 Omaha – a 2-0 winner over #2 seed Western Illinois. The Summit League finals will be played Saturday at 1:00 pm at Omaha’s Caniglia Field.