Denver men’s soccer’s 2-1 comeback victory Monday afternoon at Eastern Illinois set the table for what has become an annual title showdown between Denver and Omaha. The winner of the two-match series, in Omaha on Thursday and Denver on Sunday, is nearly guaranteed to represent the Summit League at the NCAA Soccer tournament. Denver sits at 6-2-0 (18 pts) and Omaha is 5-2-1 (16 pts). First-place Oral Roberts has already completed their schedule and they sit at 6-3-1 (19 pts). If Denver can get one clean win against Omaha, they will win the conference title outright.
Omaha is scoring 1.89 goals per game on 13.4 shots per game Denver is scoring 1.5 goals per game on 11.0 shots per game. Denver is only allowing .63 goals per game while Omaha is allowing .89 goals per match. DU’s goalkeeper Will Palmquist has a .747 save percentage. Jeremey Pollard is Omaha’s primary keeper and has a .778 save percentage so this match will pit relatively low-scoring teams with solid defensive units against each other.
Hugo Camentani leads the Mavs with 7 goals and 1 assist while DU spreads the scoring around with Jacob Stensson with 3 goals and 4 assists and Kengo Ohira with 3 goals and 2 assists to lead the Denver attack.
Conservation of energy may play a role for Denver as head coach Jamie Franks has a team coming off a Monday match while Omaha has not played since April 3rd. An NCAA study concluded that 72 hours of rest is needed at a minimum between matches. Will Franks play deeper into his bench knowing that the Pioneers have a return match slated for Sunday at CIBER Field?
If Denver can take care of business Thursday night at Caniglia Field with a regulation win, Sunday’s 1:00 pm match will be a tune-up match for the NCAA Men’s Soccer Tournament.
Photo of Omaha’s Caniglia Field courtesy of Omaha Athletics