DENVER – The third-seeded University of Denver men’s soccer team captured its sixth Summit League Tournament title since joining the league in 2013 with a 1-0 win over fourth-seeded Omaha on Saturday afternoon at the University of Denver Soccer Stadium.
“I’m just really proud of my group,” head coach Jamie Franks said. “We said that the true test of a man is where he stands in moments of adversity. Our group has gotten better with each failure along the way. We started out as an immature, inexperienced and emotional team, and we’ve grown. We’ve grown to be men. It’s been so rewarding to watch them work on themselves. A lot of teams would have given up.
“This is a special moment for my staff and I because of the resiliency, work and commitment the guys have put into the organization. The results never went our way early. The ball wasn’t bouncing our way. To watch them be as resilient as they have been, that’s our job, is the development of people. These guys are awesome and they deserve this moment.”
Denver booked a ticket to its ninth NCAA Tournament, and will learn its NCAA draw on Monday at 11 a.m. MT.
2019 Summit League Tournament MVP Preston Judd (Henderson, Nev.) netted the lone goal of the match, finding the back of the net on a strike from 30 yards that found its way into the top corner to give the Pioneers the lead in the 29th minute. Sophomore centerback Callum Stretch (Los Angeles, Calif.) found Judd in the pocket to setup the scoring chance, his first assist of the season and the fourth of his career. Judd’s tally was his seventh of the season, third in the last three matches and the 29th of his collegiate career.
Saturday’s final was the first Summit League Final since 2010 that the third and fourth seeded teams played eachother in the final. It also marked the fourth-straight Summit League Final between the two programs, with Denver now improving to 3-0-1 in those matches (Omaha won the penalty shootout in 2017). The Pioneers improved to 13-0-1 all-time in the Summit League Tournament.
Denver is now 69-8-6 at the University of Denver Soccer stadium since Franks joined the staff as an assistant in 2012.
The Pioneers defense held Omaha to one shot on target, giving up just two shots on target the entire weekend.
“I just want to say thanks to all the significant others of our staff. We were on the road a ton this year. My wife Emily, Owen’s wife Sam, Mike Eckert’s wife Brydin, Matt Shaw’s wife Katie have supported us tremendously. To be on the road as much as we have and to have the support that we do from our families, allows us to do this job. You feel really fortunate when you are in these situations where you have one or two wins late in the season and you have your administrators believing in you and supporting you. They understood what the mission was this year. We tried RPI, we got humbled, but it was a great experience for us.
“We saw the top teams, we saw the top venues and we know what the details are to get there. The margins are so small. For us to have 14 new players and 16 freshmen and sophomores among the group, it’s been great to watch them get better throughout the year. This is a journey and a process, and I wouldn’t want to do it with anybody else.”
2019 All-Tournament Team
Marcos Bautista, Omaha
Tanguy Geurineau, Oral Roberts
Preston Judd, Denver (Championship MVP)
Pep Mateu, Omaha
Daisuke Otsuka, Western Illinois
Will Palmquist, Denver
Seth Rinderknecht, Omaha
Jacob Stensson, Denver
Callum Stretch, Denver
Tim Trilk, Western Illinois
Gustavo Vargas, Oral Roberts