Denver men’s (4-2-1) and women’s (5-4-1) soccer teams went into this season with high hopes and challenging non-conference schedules. As conference matches approach, both teams must improve in different areas heading into conference play if they want to earn titles and advance to the NCAA tournament.
Denver men’s soccer has only scored 6 goals in 7 matches. Scoring less than a goal a game (.86) and allowing the same (.86) to their opponents, Denver has little to no margin for error. The Pioneers have only been able to generate 34 shots-on-goal during their first seven games. Denver has even had trouble with their usually reliable set-piece pieces. Despite taking double the amount of corner kicks as their opponents (41-21) this season, Denver has struggled to convert. Last season, DU only scored 1.5 goals per game but allowed a very stingy .63 goals-per-game to their opponents. However, this season’s low scoring leaves the Pioneers vulnerable and tied at 154th out of 201 DI men’s programs in scoring, tied with 16 other teams.
Short term, Denver men’s soccer must identify new ways to attack in the offensive zone and improve their conversion rate on shots-on-goal with the few opportunities (4.86) they earn per game. Improving set-pieces and direct kicks near goal may be another area where DU can create better scoring opportunities. Longer-term, in order to improve their margin of error, Denver needs to identify and recruit proven scorers who can create goals outside of structure – a difficult skill to find and recruit at the college level. Generally, goal scorers are born, not made.
Denver men’s soccer starts conference play this Saturday at noon against Western Illinois University in Macomb, Illinois.
Denver women’s soccer started hot with 15 goals in their first five games, including the Colorado Cup ‘exhibition’ against CC. DU lost four of their next five games while averaging one goal per match in their four losses against high-level competition. Overall, Denver has scored 23 goals in nine matches. They are averaging 2.56 goals per match while allowing 1.78 points per match. They average 15.7 shots per game and the Pioneers are 31st in the nation in scoring, tied with five other teams. Unfortunately, Denver is 248th out of 336 women’s DI programs in goals allowed per game.
Unlike the men’s side, scoring is not the issue for Denver women’s soccer, a team that entered the season with very high expectations. On the offensive end, Denver women’s soccer appears to be well-positioned heading into conference play following a match on the road this Saturday against San Diego at 8:00 pm MT. However, DU’s backline defense and goalkeeping must tighten up considerably as conference matches are typically lower scoring affairs. DU has been allowing opponents clean looks and has been a step slow or out of position on some opponent’s goals.
Keep your eyes on these statistics as the two teams transition to conference play.
Photo of fans at University of Denver Soccer Stadium courtesy of Denver Athletics