Photo: Courtesy of UVA Soccer Twitter
Just hours after being ranked the number one team in the nation by Top Drawer Soccer, the Denver Pioneers (10-1-2) fell to a very talented University of Virginia (7-1-2) side. The Pioneers were unsettled from the start and unprepared for Virginia’s size, tempo and ball control. Daryl Dike, a 6’3″ 225 skilled freshman forward from Oklahoma, put Virginia in the lead at 27:03 of the first half off a Scott Devoss deflection as Denver struggled to clear the ball from the box. Four minutes later, the Cavilers struck again on a strike off a Nathaniel Croft corner. Virginia’s Simeon Okoro buried the cross at 31:19 to give Virginia a 2-0 advantage. Denver started to move the ball into the Cavalier side of the field the final 10 minutes of the first half but were out-shot 7-0 in the first 45 minutes.
GOOAAALLL!!! Daryl Dike in the right place at the right time, his second tally of the year!
1-0 Hoos vs Denver in the 28th minute! pic.twitter.com/AELVFVJWzo
— Virginia Men's Soccer (@UVAMenSoccer) October 8, 2018
DU came out the second half and gained much better possession the first 13 minutes but could not create quality scoring opportunities. Eventually, the Cavaliers pressure and skill on the ball began to wear down the visitors and create DU miscues. Finally freshman Daryl Dike shot a laser at 69:32 from outside the box past Will Palmquist to make the score 3-0, Virginia. The rest of the match, Virginia controlled the ball and ran clock until time expired.
Denver could only muster 1 shot-on-goal and 2 corners for the match. Andre Shinyashiki could never get off a shot-on-goal while Virginia had 14 shots and 5 shots-on-goal.
It is clear why Jamie Franks is scheduling top opponents such as Creighton, Virginia, Maryland and Stanford, as the Summit League schedule does not prepare Denver for NCAA knockout soccer. A bright spot was a solid game in goal by Will Palmquist and the return of midfielder Moshe Perez (26 minutes). Kenny Akimatsu, a critical Senior midfielder, continues to sit for unexplained reasons. This afternoon provided the Pioneers with a valuable lesson in what it will take to compete for a return trip to the College Cup.
Denver returns to face another East Coast opponent next week, Maryland, and can see if they can elevate their performance with more rest and preparation against a solid but lesser opponent than Virginia.