DENVER - The No. 30 University of Denver women's soccer team defeated San Jose State 4-0 in both teams' Western Athletic Conference opener on Friday evening at CIBER Field at University of Denver Soccer Stadium.
"It's always nice to open conference play at home. We came out with a lot of fire," head coach Jeff Hooker said. "I think we started with a lot of energy. I don't think we played well defensively in the first 10 minutes, but our energy made up for it."
The Pioneers (9-1-2, 1-0-0 WAC) first strike came in the 15th minute, when sophomore midfielder Nikki Pappalardo (San Diego, Calif.) played a cross from the left wing into the box to the feet of senior midfielder Katy Van Lieshout (Boulder, Colo.). Van Lieshout proceeded to fire the ball past the keeper from short range to give DU the early 1-0 lead on her third goal of the season. All three of Van Lieshout's goals have been game-winners.
The Crimson and Gold doubled the advantage in the 20th minute. Senior forward Kaitlin Bast (Centennial, Colo.) played a pass over the top of the Spartan backline, leaving junior forward Kristen Hamilton (Littleton, Colo.) one-on-one with San Jose State (2-7-1, 0-1-0 WAC) goalkeeper Zoe Makrigiannis. Hamilton dribbled past the Spartan net-minder and placed it into the open net. It was Hamilton's eighth goal of the season, and the strike moved her into sole possession of eighth on DU's all-time career points list with 81. The Pioneers carried the 2-0 edge into the intermission.
Bast netted a goal of her own in the 57th minute. Senior forward Kalie Vaughn (Fort Collins, Colo.) cut a pass from the end-line back to Bast just inside the top of the box, for the 2010 Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year's 16-yard strike. The goal was the 34th of Bast's career, tying her with Jenna Billingsley for fifth on Denver's all-time career goals list.
Denver got a fourth goal in the 64th minute, this one off the boot of junior midfielderNicholette DiGiacomo (Golden, Colo.), just outside the top of the box. The assist was credited to Bast, her sixth of the season, and her four-point evening moved her into fifth on Denver's all-time career points list with 88.
The Spartan's best scoring opportunity came in the 85th minute when they were awarded a penalty kick. Cheryl Kute took the spot kick, but subbed in senior goalkeeper Maria Khan (Aurora, Colo.) guessed right, and Kute's shot rattled the woodwork.
Denver will look to build on its 11-match unbeaten streak when it hosts reigning WAC Champion Utah State on Sunday at 12 p.m. MT.
Individual game tickets during the 2012 season are $10 for a reserved seatback and $5 for general admission, and may be purchased by phone at 303-871-2336, online at DenverPioneers.com or in person at the Ritchie Center Box Office. DU students are free with a Pioneer Card. For group ticket discounts of 20 or more, please call/e-mail Adam Sizemore at 303-871-2389.
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