MIAMI – Sophomore Meg Halvorson (Englewood, Colo.) got Denver on the front foot in the third minute and freshman Camryn MacMillan (Littleton, Colo.) scored the first two goals of her career inside the opening 20 minutes to send the University of Denver women’s soccer team past Florida International 5-0 on Sunday afternoon at FIU Soccer Stadium. All five of Denver’s goals came from underclassmen, as freshmen Natalie Beckman (Denver, Colo.) and Gracie Sturdevant (Kirkland, Wash.) got on the board in the final 10 minutes to extend Denver’s margin to five.
“We felt like we created tons of chances in the match on Thursday, and just didn’t reap the benefits,” head coach Jeff Hooker said. “Today was a totally different story, and when it rains it pours. I’m really proud of the way we responded after Thursday night, we executed very well and were efficient with our chances today. The timing of the crosses and finishes were deadly on the first two goals, and the runs were perfect. To have the presence of mind to hit both of those chances first time was fantastic.”
Junior Hannah Adler (Oak Park, Calif.) assisted on each of Denver’s first two goals to lead the Pioneers in the category on Sunday.
After giving up an early goal in Thursday’s start to the road trip at FAU, Halvorson got Denver (1-2-1) on the board inside the opening three minutes off a combination down the left with sophomore outside back Alex Nillen (Lakewood, Colo.) and Adler that got Nillen free to cross it into the box to the run of Halvorson. The 2017 Summit League Freshman of the Year volleyed the Nillen cross over the FIU (0-3-0) goalkeeper and into the back of the net for her first of the 2018 campaign.
MacMillan’s first of two goals came in the 10th minute from a similar pattern of play down the left side of the park. Senior forward Leah Swander (Grand Junction, Colo.) found Adler’s run down the left, and the Denver junior crossed it to the penalty spot to the beautifully timed run of MacMillan who ran onto the setup and drilled it into the left side of the net on her first touch.
The Denver freshman’s first career brace was completed in the 18th minute of her fourth career match when MacMillan knocked a misplayed pass in the FIU defense into an open net to continue the early offensive explosion for the Pioneers, giving the visitors more goals in the opening 20 minutes than they had in their first three matches combined.
Denver held a 16-4 edge in shots in the opening 45 minutes and took all six corners in the first half.
After creating a few half chances in the early portion of the second half, Beckman netted a free kick in the 82nd minute for her first career goal from 22 yards out, curling her attempt into the left side netting. Sturdevant’s goal came in the 84th minute as the Denver freshmen turned her defender and had a hit from nearly 30 yards out, placing it over the outstretched arms of the FIU keeper and into the top left corner.
Junior captain Brittany Wilson (Littleton, Colo.) made five saves en-route to the first cleansheet of her 2018 season and the eighth of her career. Freshman Esther Malers (Fort Collins, Colo.) made her debut in Jeff Hooker’s starting XI at outside back on Sunday in the Pioneers’ first shutout of the campaign.