DENVER – The University of Denver women’s soccer team got the first two goals of the season from sophomore Natalie Beckman (Denver, Colo.) and a third from junior Meg Halvorson (Englewood, Colo.) to earn a 3-0 Summit League victory over Western Illinois on Thursday night at the Diane Wendt Sports Complex.
The Pioneers handed the Leathernecks their first loss in league play this season (2-1-0), en-route to improving 1-0-1 in league play heading into their second and final bye in the Summit League slate this weekend.
Denver’s student-athletes wore gold shoelaces on Thursday night in support of the Fourth Annual Lace Up 4 Pediatric Cancer Day.
“I thought that the effort was there from the beginning tonight,” head coach Jeff Hooker said. “It took us the first 10 minutes to adjust to the pitch and how it was playing. There was a little bit of a glaze of snow over wet turf, so it took time for us to figure out how to properly weight our passes, especially in the attacking third. We found a really good rhythm. Meg (Halvorson) and Natalie (Beckman) had a really good start wide for us, getting crosses into the box. Natalie gets rewarded with the goal, and then gets the penalty too. Sydney did a great job of drawing the penalty. If she’s now fouled, she’s in 1v1 with the goalie.
“The third goal for me was important too. It’s what we talked about at halftime. We sometimes let our foot off the gas, so I think getting that third goal was important for the group. We went deep into the bench today, and I was proud of our ability to keep the integrity of the game. We didn’t have to play differently just because we went deep into our bench.”
Denver’s defense did not surrender a shot on goal Thursday night, the 21st time the Pioneers have done that in their Division I history, including the first time since a 5-0 win at Purdue Fort Wayne on October 28, 2016.
Beckman opened the scoring in the 27th minute. Sophomore Camryn MacMillan (Littleton, Colo.) started the sequence down the left channel, playing a cross into the six-yard box. Western Illinois’ clearance left the ball bouncing in the box, and Beckman was the first to run onto it to knock it into an empty net and give the Pioneers the advantage.
The Denver sophomore doubled the Pioneers lead in the 37th minute from the penalty spot. Freshman Sydney Sharp (Palos Verdes Estates, Calif.) got in on goal before being taken down to the right of the penalty spot by centerback Bridget Schuler. Beckman calmly finished the spot kick to cap off the Pioneers second multi-goal match this year (Hannah Adler – vs. Texas).
Halvorson’s third came in the 47th minute, capping off a beautiful piece of build-up play in the Pioneers attack. Beckman connected with Feller down the Denver left. Feller beat her defender before finding Halvorson, who buried her second of the 2019 campaign.
Beckman’s first career brace doubled her career goals tally on Thursday night.
Denver outshot Western Illinois 23-5 on Thursday, and took four of the six corners in the match.