Category Archives: Men’s Soccer

Colorado Rapids Trade Up to Select Denver Star Andre Shinyashiki in First Round of MLS Superdraft

One of the University of Denver’s greatest-ever athletes, senior soccer striker Andre Shinyahshiki, was selected fifth overall in the First Round of the MLS Superdraft by the hometown side, the Colorado Rapids.

The most decorated student-athlete in program history, Shinyashiki’s senior offseason has seen him win the 2018 Senior CLASS Award, be named the United Soccer Coaches’ Scholar Athlete of the Year and earn MAC Hermann Trophy finalist honors.

Link to Shinyashiki’s Draft Day Interview

Shinyshiki, a first team all-American  who led the nation in scoring this season (28 goals) and rewrote much of the DU soccer record book in the process, will join former DU teammate Kortne Ford on the Rapids’ roster.  The Sao Paulo, Brazil-native has already signed an MLS contract and will join the Rapids in the pre-season camp on Jan. 21.

The Rapids, a club in dire need of goalscoring, have been following Shinyashiki’s progress at DU for four years now, and have also seen him play on the Rapids’ summer development team.  The Rapids were apparently eager to sign Shinyashiki, trading up in the draft to get him, giving up the 15th pick in the first round and $100,000 of allocation money to the Chicago Fire in return for Chicago’s fifth overall first-round pick in this year’s draft.  Additionally, the Rapids are also using one of a limited number of international MLS roster spots for the Brazilian Shinyashiki.

“We’re thrilled to get Andre,” Rapids Executive Vice President and general manager Pádraig Smith told Denver’s 9News, who has been following Shinyashiki’s career for the last few years. “He’s driven, coachable, and wants to be a top-level player. We believe he’s the best player in the draft and we’re very lucky to get him with the 5th pick.”

Smith added that he’s not just a top-class finisher, but it’s his intelligence and his mentality that make him the complete package, something he credits to DU head coach Jamie Franks and his staff.

“Coach Franks produces not just good players, but good men,” said Smith, listing out current Rapids and former Pioneer Kortne Ford as well as Sam Hamilton, who was released by Colorado last November.

“Our mission is to develop authentic leaders who strive to make the best version of themselves every day,” said Franks to 9News, who is also in Chicago for the SuperDraft

Shinyashiki made 83 appearances, including 67 starts, in his four-year Pioneer career, netting 51 goals and adding 15 assists. In 2018, Shinyashiki bagged 28 goals in 21 matches, including his first five career hat tricks and a four goal game in the Summit League opener at Omaha. Shinyashiki ranked first in the country in points per game (2.86), total points (60), goals per game (1.33), goals (28), game-winning goals (11) and shots on goal per game (2.86) this fall.

Shinyashiki is the latest of 10 Pioneers drafted by MLS teams in the last 11 seasons.

The Denver co-captain joins:
2019: Andre Shinyashiki (Colorado – 5th Overall)
2018: Graham Smith (Sporting Kansas City – 18th Overall)
2017: Reagan Dunk (Real Salt Lake – 13th Overall) and Sam Hamilton (Colorado – 15th Overall)
2015: Taylor Hunter (Houston – 49th Overall)
2014: Zach Bolden (Chicago – 61st Overall)
2013: Drew Beckie (Columbus – 28th Overall)
2011: Joe Willis (D.C. United – 50th Overall)
2010: Kris Banghart (Real Salt Lake – 64th Overall)
2009: Kyle Christensen (Chivas USA – 35th Overall)

In the last four seasons, both Ford (Colorado – 2017) and Jordan Schweitzer (Seattle – 2016) signed homegrown deals with their academy parents clubs prior to the draft.

We are also following DU senior Moshe Perez, who was among the 60 NCAA players selected for last week’s MLS Combine to see if he is selected in the final two  rounds of the 2019 MLS Draft on Monday, Jan 14.

 

 

Denver Women’s Basketball is Turning Heads at 6-1, Shoots into Top 40 in RPI

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DU Junior Lauren Loven led the entire nation in three-pointers as of Nov. 30, 2018                  Photo: University of Denver

As Denver Pioneer fans, we’re lucky that we can pop our attention from one successful DU sports program to another. All three fall DU sports (men’s and women’s soccer plus women’s volleyball) earned appearances in their respective NCAA Tournaments this fall.  And DU hockey is now ranked seventh in the nation on this bye week, more successful than almost anyone thought they’d be at this point in the season with a young team. Which brings me to the next DU team worthy of more of our attention, the DU women’s basketball team, who have shot out to a 6-1 start to the season and a current national top 40 RPI (#39) ranking, including a current four-game winning streak, as of Sunday, Dec. 2.  (Note: Early season RPI rankings are subject to volatile swings, as game data comparisons are still somewhat paltry.)

I would venture a guess that perhaps only 10 percent of our readership here at LetsGoDU have ever been to a live DU women’s basketball game before, and it’s hard to blame them. There is a lot to do in Denver, and the DU women’s basketball teams have been pretty terrible in recent memory, known more for single-digit win/last-place seasons, a fired coach and crowds comprised mostly of friends and family members. Apart from a surprise 2001 NCAA appearance in the early years of the Ritchie Center and a period of decent mediocrity (72-52) under former coach Erik Johnson from 2008-2012, there hasn’t been a lot to cheer about with DU women’s hoops in the last 20 years.

But this year’s DU women’s team is starting to change some of that…  

The Pioneers are starting to get noticed in just the second year of the Jim Turgeon coaching era, with home wins over then-#16 RPI Lamar and the latest win, a 29-point win over Loyola Marymount, a top 100 team who had already beaten UCLA and Arizona this year.  Moreover, the Pioneers are a very high-scoring bunch, averaging a stunning 90 points per game to date this season, and sport a victory margin of 16 points per game.

And Turgeon, who came to DU from CSU-Pueblo in NCAA Division II two years ago, is doing all this with many of former DU coach Kerry Cremeans’ recruits, who knew only college basketball failure before Turgeon’s arrival. Moreover, he’s done it with a wholly different philosophy of team speed, running the floor at altitude and sharing the ball, instead of Cremeans’ over-reliance on feeding key players, a coaching practice that reportedly lost the locker room and brought an end to her losing tenure at DU. This year, DU has five players averaging double-digit scoring per game, a depth which makes it harder for opponents to key on any one player, and also makes for a much happier DU locker room.

DU’s high scoring attack has been led by Lauren Loven, a junior holdover recruit from Cremeans, who is now flourishing in the ball-sharing Turgeon era, leading the entire nation in made three-pointers (30 in six games through Nov. 30), and is averaging 21 points per game overall to lead the Pioneers in scoring. Additionally, fellow Junior Madison Nelson has exploded recently, with a 20-rebound performance against Lamar and pumping in 28 points in the win over Loyola Marymount. But it’s not just upperclassmen.

Hard-working associate head coach and recruiting coordinator Kayla Ard and the rest of Turgeon’s Denver staff have also brought in some freshmen who are stepping up right away, including Sydney Mech, a local swing player out of Cherry Creek High School who can play either forward or guard, and who is shooting a scorching 50% from the field, averaging 10 points per game. Additionally, talented freshman guard Tsimba Malonga from the Chicago area, who has averaged over 20 minutes per game in the last two games, is being rewarded with more playing time as her contributions increase.

While the 6-1 early record is outstanding, it has been created with a lot of home games, and we’ll soon see what the Pioneers are really made of in the coming weeks. DU is preparing to go on the road for seven of its next eight games, including visits to Wyoming, the University of Nebraska and Colorado State, before heading into the teeth of Summit League play, where top level programs South Dakota and South Dakota State are projected to lead the Summit League.

 

Air Force won but their fans embarrassed the Academy

Photo: Courtesy of Air Force Twitter

Let’s begin by saying the best team won last Sunday’s NCAA Tournament soccer match between Denver and the U.S. Air Force Academy – kudos to the AFA for upsetting DU on the road with a fine soccer performance on the field. Also, let’s further establish that our historical experience has normally been a very positive one with Air Force fans – be it lacrosse, hockey or basketball. Typically, our experience with Air Force fans are as exemplary as the high standards of conduct at the Academy. In fact, most of us DU fans cheer on Air Force when the Falcons aren’t playing DU, because the service academies represent some of the finest young men and women who serve our country with pride and distinction.

But yesterday was different. And we believe it was an embarrassment for the cadets and for the academy. Continue reading Air Force won but their fans embarrassed the Academy

Denver Men’s Soccer Upset by Air Force, 2-1 in NCAA Second Round Soccer Match

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DU’s Stefan DeLeone reacts to DU’s 2-1 Upset Loss to Air  Force in the NCAA Tournament. Photo Credit: Jason Evans

This one hurt.

The Denver Pioneers men’s soccer season came to a crashing halt in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, as the host #15 seeded Pioneers were upset by unseeded Air Force, 2-1 (#25 RPI) at the University of Denver Soccer Stadium on Nov. 18.

The Summit League Champion Pioneers (15-3-2) came out of the gate uncharacteristically  jittery and unsure of themselves on this sunny, cool afternoon. The mood led to two rare DU defensive miscues in the first 29 minutes that led directly to a pair of Air Force goals that would be all the Falcons would need for the upset victory. Continue reading Denver Men’s Soccer Upset by Air Force, 2-1 in NCAA Second Round Soccer Match

DU Men’s Soccer Selected to Host NCAA Tourney Pod, will face Air Force or Central Arkansas this Sunday

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Andre Shinyashiki (#9), who leads the nation in goals with 28, will lead DU into the 2018 NCAA Men’s Soccer Tournament.

The University of Denver Men’s Soccer team has been not only selected for the NCAA tournament, but rewarded with a #15 seed, a bye in the first round, and will host the winner of Air Force and Central Arkansas at DU on Sunday, Nov. 18 at 3 pm MT. 

If the Pioneers should win that home game, they will face the winner of #2 seed Indiana University’s pod of Indiana, University of Connecticut or the University of Rhode Island in the third round.   The full NCAA bracket is here: http://www.ncaa.com/brackets/soccer-men/d1/2018

There was certainly some concern last night that DU might not get to host an NCAA tourney game this season, as its RPI had fallen to #17 on the evening of tournament selection (only 16 teams are seeded, the other 32 at-large teams play each other for the right to advance to one of the 16 seeded home sites), but fortunately for DU, the NCAA tournament committee did not use straight RPI to seed the tournament.

In looking ahead, Air Force, with an at large bid, is the far better of the two teams (RPI#26) when compared with Central Arkansas (#67). However, Air Force is not playing well right now, having lost its last two games to Grand Canyon (#53 RPI).  That said, Air Force being only an hour from the DU campus would likely bring more fans to DU for the game than Central Arkansas, the Champion of the Missouri Valley Conference.

For the Pioneers, it is likely that Sunday’s game will be the last home field opportunity to watch Senior Andre Shinyashiki play for DU.  Shinyashiki’s 28 goals this season leads the nation by wide margin, and he may be enjoying the finest season ever for a DU athlete in any sport.  He is one of the favorites for the Hermann Trophy, college soccer’s national equivalent of the Heisman Trophy in football or the Hobey Baker award in college hockey.  Should Andre win that award, he could be considered DU’s finest athlete in the modern era, given that there are only 60 teams playing D-I hockey, where DU has two Hobey Baker Winners, Matt Carle in 2006 and Will Butcher in 2017, the only two DU team sports athletes to win a national MVP trophy. Since there are 206 teams playing D-I soccer, Shinyshiki’s achievement would be arguably greater than Carle or Butcher.  DU has also had individual NCAA D-I champions in gymnastics (Nina McGee in 2016), swimming (Jack Kelso in 1962) and many in skiing over the years, but it could be argued that individual national MVP awards in team sports are greater achievements, since there are opponents directly trying to physically stop an athlete from achieving them, versus individual sports where the clock or judges’ scoring determines win or loss status.

While Shinyashiki’s achievements are spectacular this year, detractors argue that most of his goals have come against lower level opponents, and that against top-25 teams, Andre’s goal scoring is much rarer. Let’s hope Andre and DU score more goals in the coming weeks, and that DU can advance deep into the tournament.

In any event, all DU fans should come to the soccer game this Sunday to cheer on Andre and the Pioneers in the NCAA tournament.

Denver Wins Summit League and NCAA Berth, 1-0

Photo: Courtesy Jason Evans

Denver likely ended Omaha’s season Saturday afternoon but, as usual, the contest went down to the final minutes. Kenny Akimatsu gave the Pioneers the lead in the first half, 1-0, but several shots by the Mavericks in the waning moments almost found net. A rocket was launched off Omaha’s Nil Ayats right foot with 21 seconds to go and hit the upper cross bar and ricocheted down toward the goal line but landed in fair play. Denver ran out the clock to win the contest and receive an NCAA automatic bid. Continue reading Denver Wins Summit League and NCAA Berth, 1-0

DU to play Walkin’ Bob and Omaha in Summit League Finals

He’s been given his walking papers before. So, LetsGoDU decided to provide the Omaha Mavericks head coach Bob Warming, a printer-friendly CIBER Field map in the event he is asked by officials to leave Saturday’s Summit League final. Warming, ironically, lost his cool earlier this season in Omaha when the Mavericks gave up a 2-goal advantage to DU, allowing 4 goals to Andre Shinyashiki before Warming earned his second yellow card – sending Walkin’ Bob to the showers. Continue reading DU to play Walkin’ Bob and Omaha in Summit League Finals

Amazing Andre lifts Denver past St. Louis

It took two goals goals from Andre Shinyashiki to propel the Pioneers (10-2-2) past the Saint Louis Billikens (5-3-6) in an evenly played match at CIBER Field. The teams played to an even 0-0 draw in a physical first 45 minutes.

Denver drew first blood at 54:17 when Andre Shinyashiki took the penalty kick on a St Louis foul in the box to make it 1-0, Pioneers. Thirty seconds later, a quick Saint Louis counter by the midfielder John Klein knotted the match at 1-1. Continue reading Amazing Andre lifts Denver past St. Louis

Analysis: DU’s New Partnership with FC Bayern Munich is Very, Very Exciting

blobid2_1539351798930The exciting news of the University of Denver’s new partnership with FC Bayern Munich, one of the truly premier powerhouse professional soccer teams in the world, represents an unbelievable opportunity for not only the DU soccer program, but for the entire DU community.

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DU Provost Jeremy Haefner (far left) and DU Chancellor Rebecca Chopp (center) celebrate DU’s new partnership with management team members of world-famous soccer powerhouse FC Bayern Munich (photo credit: University of Denver)

Continue reading Analysis: DU’s New Partnership with FC Bayern Munich is Very, Very Exciting