DENVER – Senior centerback Sam Harder (Centennial, Colo.) got a set-piece goal in the 95th minute to send Denver past new conference foe Oral Roberts 1-0 in both teams’ Summit League opener on Friday night at CIBER Field at the University of Denver Soccer Stadium.
“In the first half things were flowing, but I just thought we were missing that final pass, and that final run. Things were stagnant,” head coach Jeff Hooker said. “I think in the second half we put a lot of good sequences, and got a lot of shots. We got very few of those shots on goal. We just have to do a little bit better job of concentrating. The best thing about the team is that we had a lot of heart today. We believed we were going to win, and we believed the ball was going to go in.”
The two teams went into the lockers after a scoreless opening 45 minutes, with Denver holding a 7-4 shot advantage. Both teams had one quality scoring chance in the half. Oral Roberts forward Megan Giles got the ball from 20 yards out off a scramble in the box, but from 10-yards off her line junior goalkeeper Tina Vargas (Issaquah, Wash.) made the diving save to deflect the ball over the endline for a corner kick. Vargas, who made her second start of her career on Friday, only needed to make one save in the opening stanza.
Denver’s chance came off the boot of redshirt sophomore Francesca Garzelloni (Parker, Colo.) from 20 yards out, but the midfielder’s strike rose just over the bar.
DU dominated the possession in the second half, outshooting the Golden Eagles 16-0 in the second 45 minutes. The Pioneers only put six of those 16 shots on target in the second frame. For the match, Denver outshot Oral Roberts 24-4, and held an 8-3 advantage in corner kicks.
It only took one shot in extra time to give Denver three points in the opening match of conference play, as Harder knocked it into the bottom left corner from 18 yards out off a corner kick. Junior-transfer Stella Norman (Lakewood, Colo.) played the set piece to Garzelloni at the near post, who turned her defender and found Harder at the top of the box. Harder’s goal was her second of the season, and the sixth of the senior centerback’s career.
The Pioneers will play their first two-match weekend in three weeks when they host Omaha on Sunday at 12 p.m. MT at CIBER Field.
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