DENVER –University of Denver men’s soccer head coach Jamie Franks has finalized the program’s 18-match 2019 regular season schedule that includes 13 non-conference opponents, five of which finished in the top-20 of last year’s RPI.
“The goal of the program is to win a National Championship. To be able to win six knockout games, we have to go up against the best,” Franks said. “It’s not about having the best record going into the NCAA Tournament, it’s about being the most prepared we can be for knockout style football in November and December, and this schedule will do that for our group this fall.”
Denver’s non-conference opposition averaged an RPI of just under 40 a year ago, went a combined 143-81-30 and the eight opponents that qualified combined to win nine games in the NCAA Tournament.
Following home exhibitions against Air Force on August 17 (12 p.m. MT) and Gonzaga on August 23 (5 p.m. MT), the Pioneers will begin the season with their first six matches away from home.
Denver will head to Seattle first, for two top-50 matches against Washington (Aug. 30/8:30 p.m. MT) and Seattle (Sept. 2/7 p.m. MT).
The Pioneers season-opener will be against a Huskies team that finished 12-7-1 last year, 27th in the RPI and made the NCAA Tournament. An Andre Shinyashiki 103rd minute extra time winner was the difference between the two teams at the University of Denver Soccer Stadium a year ago, two years after the Pioneers knocked the Huskies out of the NCAA Tournament 2-1 in the Round of 16 en route to their first appearance in the College Cup in 2016. Denver leads the all-time series 3-2-2. The Pioneers are 4-0-0 all-time against Seattle, and will meet the Redhawks for the first time since the two programs were Mountain Pacific Sports Federation foes in 2012.
Following the trip out west, Denver will head to South Bend, Ind., for its first two matches in a three-match stretch against top-10 teams from 2018. The Pioneers will take on Indiana on a Friday evening (Sept. 6/2 p.m. MT) and Notre Dame on Sunday night (Sept. 8/5 p.m. MT) as part of Notre Dame’s annual pre-conference tournament. Indiana finished first in the RPI a year ago with a 20-3-1 record and a trip to the College Cup Semifinals. Notre Dame took seventh in the RPI after an 11-7-3 campaign and a trip to the NCAA Quarterfinals. Denver played against the same two programs in South Bend in 2011, drawing 2-2 with then-No. 14 Notre Dame before falling 2-1 to No. 9 Indiana.
The following weekend, Denver will head back to the west coast to take on a pair of Pac-12 programs in Stanford (Sept. 13/8 p.m. MT) and California (Sept. 15/1 p.m. MT). Stanford finished ninth in the RPI a year ago with a 12-4-5 record and made its way to the NCAA Quarterfinals, while Cal is Denver’s only non-conference opponent that finished out of the top-100 last year, but the Golden Bears were 39th in 2015, 51st in 2016 and 37th in 2017. The Pioneers are 0-4-0 all-time against Stanford, including an extra time loss in Palo Alto a year ago. Denver is 1-1-1 against California, last meeting in a 2-2 draw when California was ranked 14th in the country in 2010.
Denver’s long-awaited home-opener will come on September 21st at 5 p.m. MT as part of a Saturday night double header with the women’s program. The Pios and Ponies will meet for the third time in the last five years with SMU knocking Denver out of the NCAA Tournament in 2015, and the Pioneers taking a 1-0 win in Dallas courtesy of a 50th minute penalty a year ago. Following the first single-match weekend of the year, Denver will host Eastern Illinois on September 28 (1 p.m. MT) in its 2019 Summit League regular season opener.
Denver will return to the road a little more than 48 hours after its league opener to take on Pittsburgh for the first ever meeting against the ACC school. Pitt was 44th in the RPI a year ago, finishing 8-10-1.
The Pioneers second single-match weekend of the year will see Denver welcome Pacific to the Mile High City on October 6 (2 p.m. MT). Pacific was 38th in the RPI a year ago behind a 12-5-2 year and a trip to the second round of the 2018 NCAA Tournament.
Denver opens a stretch of three-consecutive Saturdays against Summit League opposition on October 12 when the Pioneers make the trip to Western Illinois (6 p.m. MT). The Pioneers will stay on the road following the match-up in Macomb for a midweek clash against Saint Louis on October 15 (6 p.m. MT). Shinyashiki’s eighth multi-goal game of the season was enough to carry the Pioneers pass the Billikens a year ago and improve Denver’s record to 5-2-0 in seven all-time meetings with Saint Louis.
The following weekend, Denver will play two matches in Tulsa, taking on Oral Roberts in a Summit League match on October 19 (6 p.m. MT). Another Shinyashiki brace took Denver past Tulsa in 2018, and the Pioneers will head to the Oklahoma campus 2-3-0 all-time against the Hurricanes on October 22 (6 p.m. MT) to close out a stretch of 10 of the first 13 matches away from home.
The Pioneers will end their pre-NCAA Tournament schedule with potentially four of their last five at home. Denver will welcome Omaha back to DU on October 26 (7 p.m. MT) for a rematch of the 2018 Summit League Final before heading to Duke for its final midweek game of the year on October 29 (5 p.m. MT). The Pioneers’ men’s soccer program last traveled to Duke in 2009 (2-0 loss). Duke finished 15th in the RPI a year ago and reached the NCAA Round of 16.
Rhode Island will visit the Mile High City on Senior Saturday November 2 (7 p.m. MT). Winners of the Atlantic 10 Tournament in 2018, Rhode Island finished 20th in the RPI before losing to Connecticut in extra time in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Denver’s regular season home finale will be the first matchup between the two programs.
The Crimson and Gold will close out the 2019 regular season at Purdue Fort Wayne on November 9 (5 p.m. MT) before hosting the 2019 Summit League Men’s Soccer Championship November 14-16.