It was almost a perfect night at University of Denver Soccer Stadium. Harvard was in town to take on the undefeated and fifth-ranked Denver Pioneers, with a game-time temperature at 80 degrees and not a cloud in the sky. A big, buzzing school-is-back-in-session crowd nearly filled the stadium gave the night some extra verve, with the smell of $1 hot dogs everywhere.
All that was needed was a goal-scoring hero for the home team, and DU’s Brazillian senior striker Andre Shinyashiki, the leading goal scorer in NCAA Division I soccer, did his job with his pair of elegant goals to elevate the University of Denver to a 3-1 win over Harvard in a game that was not as close as the score would indicate.
“I think we were outshooting them 10-0 at one point, so we did a great job of getting on top of the game,” DU head coach Jamie Franks said in the post-game press release. “Giving the goal up at 3-0 made the game more interesting than it needed to be.”
Shinyashiki came into last night’s Harvard match leading the NCAA in goals (8) and game-winning goals (4), and now has 10 on the season with four of them game-winners in only six matches in 2018.
The Pioneers were all over the Crimson early in the match, and Shinyashiki wowed the crowd with his ninth goal of the season in the 24th minute. Fellow senior forward Kenny Akamatsu had intercepted an errant Harvard pass in the middle of the field, carved the Harvard defense wide open with his dribbling to the top to the box, and then fed Shinyashiki, who had been waiting in the left corner of the box. Shinyashiki then cut in front of his Harvard defender, took the pass from Akamatsu, wheeled around and fired a left-footed blast into bottom right corner to beat a diving Harvard goalie David Paquette for the game’s opening score.
Sensing blood in the water, the Pioneers scored again just three minutes later when Shinyashiki’s perfect looping pass over the Harvard defense found redshirt freshman Brooks Crawford, who chested the ball down to his feet and found himself in alone in the Harvard box. With a single dribble ahead, Crawford then poked the ball past Paquette for what would be the eventual game-winner, sending DU up, 2-0.
Shinyashiki’s final goal of the evening was a gorgeous 64th minute curling shot from 20 yards out where the Sao Paulo native had time and space to pick his spot for his shot. DU holding midfielder Jacob Stensson had found Shinshiki wide open on the right flank for the assist, and Shinyashiki’s 33rd career goal at DU would give the Pioneers a 3-0 lead which would would put the game out of reach.
With a the big lead, DU emptied its benches in the final 25 minutes or so, and Harvard was able to get on the scoreboard in garbage time on a Sam Brown free kick from just outside the DU box in the 78th minute to make the final 3-1.
Sunday afternoon Denver (5-0-1) welcomes 22nd-ranked University of San Francisco Dons to the University of Denver Soccer Stadium for a 1:00 pm start in the annual dog-friendly “Bark in the Park” game.