MACOMB, Ill. – Junior midfielder Riley Welch (Littleton, Colo.) gave the Pioneers the lead for good in the 29th minute and senior starter Cassidy Rey (Arcadia, Calif.) and freshman Brittany Wilson (Littleton, Colo.) combined for their second shutout of the season to send the University of Denver women’s soccer team past Western Illinois in both teams’ Summit League opener on Friday afternoon at John MacKenzie Alumni Field.
“With the teams in this league continuing to get better, road winds will be harder and harder to come by, so we're pretty happy starting 1-0 on the road,” 25th year head coach Jeff Hooker said. “Riley scored a nice goal off of a great team possession and individually was able to get away from her defender and smack it into the top corner. I thought we did a great job in the second half of trying to get a second, but their keeper made some great saves. There were certainly areas where we could have been better on the day, but a shutout on the road is exactly what this team needed to start Summit League play.”
Welch grabbed the breakthrough for Denver (4-7-0, 1-0-0 Summit) in the 29th minute, her third career goal and her first of the 2016 campaign. Redshirt-senior captain Francesca Garzelloni (Parker, Colo.) fed her eighth career assist to the Denver junior, a pass Welch slotted home from just inside the penalty spot over Western Illinois (2-7-1, 0-1-0 Summit) goalkeeper Jennifer Currie.
Denver took that 1-0 lead into the locker room on Friday afternoon. The Pioneers held a 6-1 edge in shots in the opening 45 minutes, putting two of the six shots on target. DU also had the match’s only four corner kicks in the first half.
With Denver taking the first half lead, the match opened up in the second, but the visitors managed to still have firm control of the possession and chances in the second half. DU outshot Western Illinois 17-5 overall in the match, while taking the only six corner kicks (two in the second half).
Friday afternoon’s cleansheet is Denver’s second of the season, a match that saw Rey face zero shots on target and Wilson be called upon to make two saves in the second 45 minutes.