Category Archives: Men’s Soccer

Puck Swami’s Rapid Reaction: DU’s Choice of Maine AD Karlton Creech is a “Safe Hire”

The hiring of University of Maine Athletic Director Karlton Creech as DU’s new Vice Chancellor for Athletics and Recreation looks to be a ‘safe’ hire for the University of Denver, likely to build incrementally on the legacy of the retiring Peg Bradley-Doppes, who spent the last 13 years in the position. Creech begins at DU on May 1, 2018.

DU wanted to hire a “sitting” AD and did just that. Creech will inherit a DU athletic program that is flying high as the best non-football athletic department in the country, but still faces many challenges going forward.

In the world of D-I college athletics, a sitting AD moving from Maine to Denver is seen as something of a lateral move. Creech’s stated leadership style is to put athletes and coaches ahead of himself, and that leadership style was likely very attractive to DU, where current athletic leadership also shares that low-key management style. As Creech has been working at state schools for his entire career, he will certainly understand budget restrictions. That said, DU is a richer school (with a $700+ million endowment in 2018, compared to around $300 million for Maine) that does not have some of the location disadvantages that Orono, Maine must cope with as a rural university in a rural state. DU is also a more successful school athletically than Maine, and Creech won’t have to worry about a money-sucking football program here in Denver.

Creech, who joined Maine as AD in 2014 after 10 years in senior athletic positions at the University of North Carolina, checks many of the key sport boxes that Pioneer fans will care about.  Maine has a very proud tradition in men’s ice hockey (that is on the way up again after a period of stagnation), and Creech’s experience at the school that produced current DU hockey coach Jim Montgomery should be a relief for those DU hockey fans who feared DU might select a new Athletic Director who would not understand hockey’s unique primacy and tradition at DU.

Creech also spent 10 years at the University of North Carolina from 2004-2014, which has recent NCAA basketball and lacrosse championships, a fact that will no doubt be attractive to DU fans who wanted an AD who understands basketball and lacrosse at a high level. Peg Bradley-Doppes also spent time at North Carolina, so I am sure that connection will be a helpful bridge in the transition period. Creech also has a major soft spot for the sport of golf, as his wife was a golfer at UNC, and he also avidly plays the sport himself.

Creech earned his bachelor’s degree at North Carolina State University in 1995, and his master’s degree at Liberty University in Virginia in 2014.

While financial terms for Creech’s DU deal were not disclosed, the DU job will likely be a large pay upgrade for Creech, who was on year two of a four-year deal at Maine, where he had a base salary of $183,855 plus a donor-provided yearly supplement of $25,000 for an annual total salary of $208,855.  At DU, Peg Bradley-Doppes earned about $370,000 in salary and other DU income in 2014, according to DU’s most recently available 2014 form 990. We believe Creech signed a five-year deal at DU.

I look at this hire as a good one — perhaps not transformational or game-changing, but certainly one where we can expect competence and progression. The biggest areas of concern I have from a sports perspective are primarily around Maine’s dreadful basketball performance in the 2014-2018 period, when Creech was there.  DU must improve its basketball program and that is where his attention needs to be. I also have some concerns from a marketing perspective, as Creech does not have experience working with schools in large urban markets. If we were expecting the new AD to fill seats here, it will probably not happen with marketing genius or spending, but rather with winning teams and community engagement.

Peg Bradley-Doppes was certainly the best AD DU has ever had, and her shoes are big ones to fill. She has done much of the heavy lifting already in terms of hiring great coaches (her specialty), facilities, team performance, graduation rates and departmental GPA.  DU still has big work to do in terms of future conference affiliation, creating national basketball relevance and gaining more traction in our own city. The athletic department also faces a punishing financial climate in which DU must compete with schools with many more resources.

Finally, Creech will need to deal with a central DU administration under Chancellor Chopp that has been uneven in how it treats athletics. The Chancellor appears to know the benefits of athletics and supports it in her public words.  But in her budgets, in her antipathy toward DU’s mascot (and possibly DU’s nickname as well) and in her treatment of some within DU athletics, it is clear that more work needs to be done. We hope Creech is up for it, and we’re here to support him!

Puck Swami is the Internet moniker of a longtime DU fan and alumnus. He shares his views here periodically at LetsGoDU. Photo Credit: University of Denver

Denver Falls to Omaha in 2 OT’s and 11 Round Shootout 1-1 (9/8)

Denver faced a sky high Omaha team with an NCAA birth on the line at Caniglia Field Saturday afternoon. It was a physical, tense game as the two teams traded punches in a highly physical match.

DU had the best of the first few minutes but the best chance came early at 10:49 on a direct kick from UNO’s Xavier Gomez from above the box. His shot went directly into DU’s defensive wall. At 23:29, the game got chippy when Xavier Gomex picked up a yellow for stepping on DU’s Ryan Barlow after a foul. Then, at 25:42, the Pioneers Scott DeVoss took advantage of some disorganization in the box and slipped the ball past all-conference goalie Joseph Ghitis, DU 1-0. But UNO countered quickly with a breakout that led to a penalty kick on a tripping foul by DU’s Tosh Samkange in the box. After a long approach and stutter step, Xavier Gomez tucked the ball into the left corner of the frame to knot the match, 1-1. Several minutes later, at 32:10, DU’s Kenny Akamatsu got the ball in the box and made a dangerous turn and shot opportunity from 10 yards out – but the shot went high over the crossbar. The teams spent the rest of the half battling at midfield with no serious threats. The half ended 1-1. Denver led in shots 5-4 but Omaha had the advantage on shots on goal 3-2. Continue reading Denver Falls to Omaha in 2 OT’s and 11 Round Shootout 1-1 (9/8)

Denver Men’s Soccer Plays the Patient Game in 1-0 Semifinal Win

#1 seed Denver men’s soccer (10-6-1 overall, 5-0-0 Summit) defeated #4 Eastern Illinois (4-8-6 overall, 2-2-1 Summit) on Thursday afternoon Summit League semifinal action.

It was far from ‘the beautiful game’ as Eastern Illinois came out playing a defensive style while Denver took possession and attacked, especially in the first half..

Denver dominated the first half with six shots on goal to one and dominated time-of-possession. The Panthers played a defensive game but Denver created a number of good chances. The Panthers started with a 4-3-3 defense and put the game in the hands of their Summit League goalkeeper of the year Mike Novotny. Blake Elder, Andre Shinyashiki and Jacob Stensson took turns firing at goal while Eastern was content to pull back in the defensive half. The most spectacular chance in the half occurred at 35:08 when a Blake Elder scissor kick in the box was on-frame but stopped by Novotny. But shortly thereafter, at 38:15, DU took command with a quick restart to catch the Panthers off guard as Blake Elder put his second chance past Novotny, DU 1-0.  Continue reading Denver Men’s Soccer Plays the Patient Game in 1-0 Semifinal Win

Coach uses bridge to build UNO Roster

Article Reprint from Omaha.com

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“Sometimes I just sit here and stare,” said Jason Mims, Head Coach of the Omaha Mavericks. “It’s made such a difference to our program.”

Mims is talking about the Dodge Street pedestrian overpass, a ribbon of concrete and steel that winds its way over Dodge Street near the UNO campus and connects Elmwood and Memorial Parks.

Image result for Dodge Street Bridge

Photo: The American Institute of Steel Construction named it “Most Beautiful Bridge” in the U.S. in 1969. Continue reading Coach uses bridge to build UNO Roster

Denver men’s and women’s soccer both punch postseason tickets

Photo courtesy Denver Athletics

The University of Denver Pioneers women’s soccer program is going back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2013 thanks to the 85th minute heroics of senior forward Angelica Pacheco. Her goal gave the Pioneers a 2-1 lead after North Dakota State had tied it at 1 just minutes before on a penalty kick. The Pioneers bled out the rest of the clock to clinch the 2017 Summit League title and a berth in the NCAA Tournament. Continue reading Denver men’s and women’s soccer both punch postseason tickets

Goals drive Denver goalie Nick Gardner to success in net

Photo credit Teddy Choi, University of Denver

In a sport where players utilize every inch of the field to work their way as unit with one common goal at stake; to put the soccer ball in the back of the net. Conversely, it takes an alternative mind to defend shots aimed at the 8-yard by 8-feet goal posts securing the net to the ground. Nick Gardner has that defensive mind. Continue reading Goals drive Denver goalie Nick Gardner to success in net

Denver Looks to Reclaim Summit League Regular Season Title

Photo: Denver plays host to the UNO at CIBER Field Saturday night

The dust had hardly settled on their first conference win this past weekend when Omaha Mavericks (8-4-2, 1-0-2 Summit) head coach Jason Mims told omaha.com, “Guys are always excited when we go to Denver. Denver (8-6-1 overall, 3-0-0 Summit) is always a good team. It’s always a hard place to play at, but I think our guys are always ready for that challenge. They know it’ll be a battle.”

Omaha is defending their regular season Summit League title from last season when they earned the title on a tiebreaker (conference goal differential) against DU.

Continue reading Denver Looks to Reclaim Summit League Regular Season Title

Stretch Run Opens Possibilities for Fallpeat

Photo: DU men’s soccer and women’s volleyball have a good chance for Summit League championships and NCAA repeat appearances this Fall.

It just feels different this year.

Maybe it was the men’s soccer (8-6-0, 3-0-0) 37-game regular season unbeaten streak being snapped, the women’s soccer team (8-8-1, 4-2-0) getting throttled by rival CU 6-1 at home or women’s volleyball (15-5, 6-2) falling at home during the Denver Invitational championship finals against San Diego State. Plus, it feels like there have been scheduling gaps where DU teams and fans can’t get into a rhythm. Continue reading Stretch Run Opens Possibilities for Fallpeat

Kronenberg’s goal sends Denver past Eastern Illinois in Summit League Opener

Denver soccer finely tuned the split start to the 2017 season. In the Summit League Opener, the DU Pioneers’ play resembled its previous style and culture that propelled the program’s outstanding success within the past few seasons. With a calm, 1-0 win over the Eastern Illinois Panthers Denver (6-5-0, 1-0-0 Summit League) reinstated a critical confidence of play as the Pioneers controlled the match. 

“The point of the out-of conference is to find out what you have and then the point of the in-conference is to find out to get better each day and each game and that’s what we’ve done all season,” Head coach Jamie Franks said. “For us, I think we’ve learned some valuable lessons from about the past three weeks or month and we’re addressing those things and they aren’t things that will happen over night. These kids have a lot of talent and a lot of experience so as long as we stay resilient we’re going to continue to get results.” Continue reading Kronenberg’s goal sends Denver past Eastern Illinois in Summit League Opener