Order Restored – Denver & Omaha in Summit League Finals

Photo: DU’s Jocob Stensson takes a corner kick against Oral Roberts

Denver and Omaha upset #2 seed Oral Roberts and #1 seed Western Illinois, respectively, to advance to the Summit League Men’s Soccer Championship final Saturday 2:00 pm MT at CIBER Field. 

DU’s Josh Drack gave the Pioneers a 1-0 lead on a penalty kick at 24:10 of the first half after the teams played even during a hard-fought physical contest. For the game, DU out-shot the Golden Eagles 11 to 6 and the visitors could not solve Denver keeper Will Palmquist. ORU had several solid chances to score in the match but were unable to find the back of the net. Denver generated a breakaway in the waning seconds of the game and a DU player was tackled by the ORU keeper Miles Motakef for a penalty in the box. Jacob Stensson buried the PK with 3-seconds left to make it a 2-0 final.

It was a physical contest with three yellow cards given to each side. There were 17 total corner kicks during the match but neither team could deliver on numerous set pieces and corners.

Omaha defeated a pesky Western Illinois side 3-2 in extra time. The Mavericks opened the scoring in the 29th-minute when Mitch Hammer scored on a back-heel pass from Junior Noutoua. With Omaha holding a 1-0 lead, Western Illinois’ Paul Kirdorf was sent off after receiving a red card in the 41st-minute of the first half. But, the shorthanded Leathernecks were still able to take a 2-1 lead deep into the second half. Omaha finally countered with 12 minutes remaining to draw the score even – 2-2. The match went to extra time. Three minutes into OT, Hammer found a diving Pep Mateu for a goal and Omaha’s first victory in seven overtime contests this season. The final, 3-2 OT, Omaha.

Denver (5-11-3, 2-2-1 Summit League) and Omaha (4-8-4, 2-2-1 Summit League) go into the Summit League final with sub-500 records and a chance to redeem seasons that have fallen below expectations for both sides.

3 thoughts on “Order Restored – Denver & Omaha in Summit League Finals”

  1. This may sound snobby, but DU should never be in a position where a DU soccer win over a Summit League opponent is considered an ‘upset.’ If Summit League soccer teams are ever seeded above DU, it is DU’s fault for under-performing, pure and simple.

    The Pioneers, as a private school with a yearly NCAA-tournament level program for both genders, should NEVER be losing to Summit League teams in the sport of soccer, men or women. If DU does lose to a Summit team, it’s either poor recruiting, poor performance or both. DU’s national access to country-club athletes in these kinds of sports is a huge competitive advantage, if leveraged properly. The same is true for DU’s other “country-club sports” – tennis, golf and swimming for both men and women.

    Losing to Summit teams in basketball or volleyball is far more understandable, as DU does not have a big competitive advantage competing for athletes coming from public high schools, which fill the rosters in basketball and volleyball.

  2. Not sure I agree when it comes to soccer for several reasons. First, soccer is an international game. Looks like seven or so of the Omaha players are from other countries. The cost of DU, unless a student is on a full ride, is very high vs. Omaha. While I think women’s soccer is largely suburban in the United States, the men’s game is much more dispersed among metro areas and the suburbs. Our own Kortny Ford came from a disadvantaged background and was one of DU’s best players ever. Also, there is a narrow margin for soccer between winning and losing. Quality coaching, strategy, and effort (always emphasized by Jamie Franks) are often the difference. That allows Omaha and Denver to be on very even terms. There were years before Bobby Muus and Jamie Franks that DU was not very good. Add the stresses and distractions of college life and there will be uneven performances. Several years ago, DU women’s soccer had a bad locker room and they were awful. Thankfully, they have turned it around.

    I think we have been very fortunate to have some great coaching and players that have kept us near the top for quite awhile – but that could easily change with a few twists and turns. As a fan, I never take a D1 win in any sport for granted.

  3. Good point about international athletes. My feeling is that DU should still have a big advantage recruiting them over the the other schools in the Summit, who do not offer the academic, recreational, social, employment or geographical advantages that Denver offers, compared to other Summit schools or locales.

    I’ll stand by my point that DU should never lose in soccer games to teams from the Summit League. Doesn’t mean they won’t from time to time, but they shouldn’t…

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