The Summit League Tournament champs, Denver (13-2-5, 6-0-2) faced the WCC champions San Diego Toreros (8-4-6, 6-0-1) in first-round NCAA Tournament action Thursday afternoon. It was snowy, cold and, it took extra time for a 1-0 DU win. After 110 minutes of play, and a perilous last five minutes, Denver emerged victorious.
San Diego took early control of the game, owning possession on the icy field but Denver gradually evened up possession. 17 minutes into the match, the Toreros got behind the DU back line on a breakaway. A hard shot by USD’s Nicklas Clausen caromed off the frame as Denver avoided an early hole. 15 minutes later, DU lost an opportunity to score when they broke San Diego’s back line but Kengo Ohira was stoned by the San Diego keeper Jason Dubrovich who stopped the shot with a kick save. San Diego outshot DU in the half 7(2)-4(3).
The second half was even until USD’s Gourdie Rhys got a red card for dangerous play in the 57th minute. The shorthanded Toreros were on their back foot the rest of the half but they shut down the wings, clogged the middle, and the Pioneers could not find space to feed through balls to their forwards. DU took three shots, none on cage, and the Toreros could never muster a shot during second fourty-five minutes. The half ended 0-0 and two ten-minute overtime periods were played – a new NCAA Tournament rule this season, replacing the ‘golden goal.’
Three minutes into the first overtime period, Kengo Ohira received a lose ball in the box from Griffin Meyer and delivered the game-winner into the back of the net.
— Denver MSoccer (@DU_MSoccer) November 17, 2022
The final ten minutes were tense as the Toreros pulled forward and Denver played back on defense. USD earned three corner kicks and four shots but all were stopped by DU’s defense and DU’s outstanding keeper Isaac Nehme to end the match.
— Denver MSoccer (@DU_MSoccer) November 18, 2022
Next up for the Pios on their march to the College Cup is a round two matchup in Raleigh-Durham to face 4th-seeded Duke (11-1-4, 5-0-3 ACC) on Sunday, November 20th at Koskinen Stadium.