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Denver Opens 2014 Campaign at Nevada

Published: August 20, 2014


Coaches’ Corner With Jeff Hooker

DENVER - The University of Denver women’s soccer team will open its 2014 campaign on the road, traveling to Nevada on Friday (5:30 p.m. MT) and Colorado College on Sunday (2 p.m.). DU’s match against Colorado College is the program’s second match of its three match Colorado Cup slate.


DU is 20-10-1 (.656) all-time in season openers and 8-8-1 (.490) in opening matches away from home. 2014 marks the fourth-consecutive season the Pioneers have played Colorado College in the opening weekend.


2014 marks the first season that all six Division I teams will play in the Colorado Cup. Denver, the current keeper of the traveling trophy after last year’s title, opened the 2014 Colorado Cup in its exhibition against Air Force. Junior Taylor Ivins (West Haven, Utah) scored the match’s lone goal to give Denver the first three points of this year’s tournament.  Colorado hosts Colorado State on Friday, while Northern Colorado welcomes Colorado College to Greeley on Friday. Denver will resume its Colorado Cup against Colorado College on Sunday, kicking off an hour before Colorado’s match against Northern Colorado.


University of Denver head coach Jeff Hooker will begin his 23rd campaign at the helm this weekend. The nine-time conference coach of the year will look to reach double digits in NCAA Tournament appearances this season, trying to make it three in a row for the program. With over 300 wins already to his name, Hooker enters the 2014 season with a 305-106-38 DU women’s record, and a 325-118-42 all-time record. The veteran head man also spent two seasons with the DU men’s program, recording a 20-12-4 mark while being in-charge of both programs.


For the second-consecutive year, the Pioneers were picked to win the Summit League in the 2014 Summit League Preseason Coaches’ Poll. DU went a perfect 7-0-0 and 18-2-1 overall last season. A total of four all-league selections and two all-tournament team honorees return for DU. The Pioneers received 64 points and eight first place votes in the poll.


Redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Kelsey Quintos returns in net for the Wolf Pack, after posting a 1.21 goals-against average in 2013. Last year’s leading scorer, senior Bobby Reilly also returns for Nevada, after a junior campaign that saw her net five goals. Head coach Dr. Melissa Price begins her fifth season this weekend.


Jessie Ayers will create problems in the attack for Colorado College, as the three-time All-Conference USA First Team selection led the Tigers in scoring a year ago with 27 points on 13 goals and an assist. Midfielder Kaeli Vandersluis, an All-Central First Team selection in 2013, finished her junior campaign with 27 points as well, on nine goals and nine assists. The Tigers return their top for scorers to this year’s team, and return seven seniors to the roster. Head coach Geoff Bennett enters his 11th season in charge of the Tigers, coming off back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances, including a 2012 First Round meeting with Denver that the Pioneers won 3-1 at CIBER Field. Bennett enters the campaign with a 113-60-28 record in his first decade at CC. The Pioneers are 2-1 all-time against CC in Colorado Cup games.


Experience in the back cannot be overvalued, as the Pioneers return three backs with at least 55 career appearances. Centerback staple Sam Harder has started 65 of the Pioneers 66 matches since the Centennial native stepped on campus in 2011. Classmates Paige Diamond (56 CAPS) and Shelby Wesley (65 CAPS) also bring experience to the Denver backline.


Following an impressive freshman season, goalkeeper Cassidy Rey begins her second season in a DU kit this weekend. Rey started 18 of the 19 matches she played last season, recording seven shutouts and allowing just nine goals (0.52 GAA). For her performance, Rey was named the 2013 Summit League Goalkeeper of the Year, and was a first-team selection in the conference. Rey took over in net last season following the graduation of four-year starter and all-time wins leader Lara Campbell, who accumulated 62 career victories.


With the departure of the nation’s fifth winningest senior class, and two NSCAA All-Americans, Hooker and his staff have added 10 players to the 2014 roster, including nine freshmen. Colorado native and junior transfer Stella Norman was also added to the roster in July, coming off a sophomore campaign at Stony Brook where she scored five goals and tallied six assists from an outside back position. Norman played her club soccer at Real Colorado, where she spent most of her time in the midfield. Hooker added three freshmen Black Diamond Soccer Club (Utah) teammates, three California players, two Colorado natives and a New Mexico Rush forward to his roster during the signing period.


Denver’s nine Colorado natives on its roster were split at the youth level between three of the state’s major club teams. Three of Denver’s six seniors, Caitlin Higgins, Shelby Wesley and Anna Willis all played their club soccer for the Colorado Storm. Norman, redshirt sophomore Francesca Garzelloni and freshman Riley Welch played for Real Colorado, and Harder, sophomore Lilly McSwain and freshman Lauren Conley played for Colorado Rush.


Coming off back-to-back trips to the NCAA Tournament, the Pioneers will look for a third-straight trip to the postseason, a feat the program has already accomplished twice in its Division I history. The 2009 senior class is the only class to go to the NCAA Tournament all four seasons. The 2012 Pioneers made the program’s biggest run in the tournament, defeating Colorado College and No. 4 Maryland to reach the Sweet 16 for the first time in program history.


Visit DenverPioneers.com for complete coverage of all 17 of Denver’s NCAA Division I sports.

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