BROOKINGS, S.D. – The second-seeded University of Denver women’s soccer team got three goals from its freshmen class and kept its ninth cleansheet of the season to knockout third-seeded North Dakota State on Thursday night in the second semifinal of the 2018 Summit League Women’s Soccer Championship at the Fishback Soccer Complex. Fourth-seeded Omaha defeated top-seeded and hosts South Dakota State in the first semifinal by a score of 3-1.
“I thought it was a great effort defensively to get the shutout. Brittany (Wilson) and the back four were solid all match long,” head coach Jeff Hooker said. “Our freshmen came up big today with some very timely goals. Feller’s goal was taken so very well and I thought that was a really important goal to give us some breathing room right on the other side of halftime. I thought Hannah Adler had a big impact in the match as we had to change our style of play a little and take what they were giving us. All in all it was a great team performance, and now we have to bring the same attitude and effort back here on Saturday afternoon in the final.”
Saturday’s final (11 a.m. MT) will mark Denver’s 13th Division I conference final appearance (9-1-2), including its fourth in six seasons in the Summit League.
A trio of Denver freshmen scored the class’s 17th,18th and 19th goals of the season when forward Natalie Beckman (Denver, Colo.) netted one from the spot in the 19th minute, Summit League Freshman of the Year Samantha Feller (Grand Junction, Colo.) scored a classy goal in the 46th and classmate Camryn MacMillan (Littleton, Colo.) finished her fifth of the season in the 77th.
North Dakota State’s Laura Powell was whistled for a handball in the box by the referee in the 19th minute to create a spot kick for Denver. Beckman scored the second goal of her rookie season in the first half, converting the first penalty of her career.
The Pioneers took the lead into the intermission with the shots split nine a side. Denver put six of its nine shots on target, and junior captain Brittany Wilson (Littleton, Colo.) stopped four Bison shots in the opening 45 minutes.
Feller doubled Denver’s advantage right on 46 minutes, receiving a pass from junior centerback Cheyenne Shorts (Denver, Colo.) and burying her ninth goal of the season into the left side of the net. Shorts chipped a ball over the North Dakota State back line, which Feller took her first touch on to the right side of the six-yard box. Feller took one touch at waist level to her left and by her defender before drilling a shot into the back of the net from six yards out. Shorts earned her fourth career assist on Denver’s second goal, including her second of the 2018 campaign.
MacMillan got her second goal against the Bison this season, scoring in the 90th minute at North Dakota State in the Pioneers’ two-goal comeback earlier this year. The forward finished a cross from sophomore midfielder Meg Halvorson (Englewood, Colo.) with a first-time finish at the far post to put Denver 3-0 up in the 77th minute. Halvorson’s helper was her fourth of the season and the sixth of her two-year Pioneer career.
The Pioneers kept the press going in the second half and didn’t allow a shot on goal in the second 45 en route to a fifth shutout against Summit League opposition this season.
Denver improved to 32-5-4 in Division I league tournaments, including 12-3-2 in semifinals. Overall in the 2018 campaign, the Pioneers have now won nine of their last 10 matches.