There was the joy of a Hocktoberfest hockey win and a road win from DU men’s soccer to clinch their 9th league regular season title. DU volleyball has emerged from the non-conference ashes to become a Summit League threat after 3-2 home wins against St. Thomas and arch-rival South Dakota. An upset tie with Augustana was a shock (the Vikings then beat CC in regulation on Saturday) but the biggest surprise was the shootout loss by #1 seed DU women’s soccer to #4 seed Omaha in the Summit League tournament semifinals at Pioneer Field to end their season.
We told you about the Augustanta and Air Force games at Magness Arena. It is now ‘CC Hate Week’ and already time to defend the Gold Pan. The big question will be: Does DU put veteran Matt Davis back in the crease or will head coach David Carle stick with flashy freshman Freddie Halyk, who shut out Air Force in his first career start, against the Tigers’ All-NCHC tender Kaiden Mbereko? Mbereko has publicly announced that the Tigers are going to win the Gold Pan this season – that means the Tigers must win three out of four games to seize the trophy while DU must just win twice – a single weekend sweep gets the job done. We like DU’s odds.
Let’s start with the disappointment. #1 DU women’s soccer regular season Summit League Champs (9-2-7, 5-1-2) outplayed #4 Omaha Sunday night at Pioneer Field but trailed the Mavs late, 2-1, in regulation. Omaha had made 100% of their two-shot opportunities. Denver’s Jadyn Goodrich responded with a desperation goal in traffic with a minute to go to knot the score 2-2. Denver thoroughly dominated play in the 10-minute OT but could not score. The match went to PK’s with DU goalie Molly Wissman (who stood watching the match in 20-degree weather) against a warmed-up goalie for Omaha who had to defend nearly the entire match (Shots 16-4, SOG 10-2). The Omaha goalie, Mia Reedtz Rehde Olesen, made the shootout saves (3-2) and Omaha is headed to the Summit League final at South Dakota State. This outcome marks the second season in a row that DU women’s soccer has succumbed to a nearly identical painful shootout scenario. The beautiful game can be cruel.
Men’s soccer (10-2-4, 6-0-1) are now Summit League regular season champs for the umpteenth time (#9) with a gutsy win in Tulsa against Oral Roberts, 1-0. DU’s Bryce Willoughby found the back of the net at 15:20 of the first half and that is all DU would need. This was like the women’s game, only in reverse. DU was under siege with ORU taking 25 shots, 7 on goal to DU’s meager 4 shots, 1 on goal. DU’s keeper Isaac Nehme was the other obvious star of the game as he faced the Golden Eagles assault. DU held on for the win in what has been an injury-plagued season but all is for naught if they get bounced in the Summit League Tournament. Denver plays a final regular season game next Saturday against UMKC at Pioneer Field – senior day.
✅: 9th @TheSummitLeague regular season title in 11 years
✅: Secured our 17th of 20 trophies available since 2013
✅: SL Tournament hosting rights in 2024
🔜: Senior Saturday and then another trip to Tulsa for the league tournament.
✍️: https://t.co/Hju0wy87uA #GoPios pic.twitter.com/zsbeBwhhxS
— Denver MSoccer (@DU_MSoccer) October 29, 2023
A two-game home sweep of St. Thomas and South Dakota continued Denver volleyball’s resurgence (10-10, 9-3). The St Thomas match was exciting with a quick start by DU who dominated the Tommies in the first two games of the match and finished off the visitors in the fourth. Four familiar faces led the Denver charge – Cadi Boyer with 15 kills, Briley Decker with 47 assists, Gianna Bartalo with 24 digs, and Molly Mirabella added 9 blocks. The win against arch-rival South Dakota was even bigger on Saturday afternoon. South Dakota won the first and third games but Denver kept fighting from behind. DU won the fifth game on extra points and polished off the Coyotes. It was DU’s four-person wrecking crew again with Cadi Boyer with 16 kills, Briley Decker with 42 assists, Gianna Bartalo with 18 digs, and Mirabella with 11 big blocks in the win.
And yes, the snow this past weekend reminds us that hoops isn’t far behind. A week from today, the DU men travel to UC San Diego to open non-conference play and return Thursday, November 9th for their home opener against Cal Poly at Hamilton Gym. Look for our season preview later this week.