DENVER – In a season that began with the University of Denver women’s soccer team winning its first three games by an overtime finish against Northern Colorado, withstanding a late surge against Colorado College and a come from behind game-winner with 20 seconds remaining against Nebraska, the Pioneers could use a stress-free victory.
While no match is stress free, the Pioneers (4-0) scored the first three goals in Friday’s match against San Francisco and won the first game of the California Invitational by a score of 3-1.
Denver opened the scoring in the 29th minute as sophomore midfielder Nicholette DiGiacomo (Golden, Colo.) tallied her first goal of the season on a beautiful piece of build up play by the Pioneers. Junior forward Kalie Vaughn (Fort Collins, Colo.) started the scoring chance by getting wide and crossing the ball to the far post and off the head of sophomore forward Cassidy Larson (Eldorado Springs, Colo.), who headed the ball to DiGiacomo’s feet, setting her up for the game’s first goal.
Sophomore forward Kristen Hamilton (Littleton, Colo.) got behind the Dons (0-4) backline in the 38th minute, but USF goalkeeper Gabby Guaiumi made a great save to prevent the sophomore’s fourth goal of the season. However, freshman midfielder Anna Willis (Centennial, Colo.) beat her mark to the ball and knocked home the rebound to put the Pioneers up two goals.
For the first time this season, the Pioneers were forced to play a man down when in the 60th minute senior midfielder Kari Storslett(Bakersfield, Calif.) received her marching orders on a straight red for the denial of a goal scoring opportunity.
Playing with 10 didn’t seem to faze the Pioneers offensive attack as Reigning Co-SBC Player of the Week Kaitlin Bast (Centennial, Colo.) added a shorthanded goal for the Pioneers in the 66th minute off a pass from sophomore midfielder Jessy Battelli (Golden, Colo.).
“We showed a lot of composure and were able to finish out the game on top, despite how much the play opened up after we went down to 10,” head coach Jeff Hooker said. “This afternoon was a great test for us playing with 10, and it was great to see that so many players were able to contribute, especially off the bench, to today’s victory.”
Junior goalkeeper Maria Khan (Aurora, Colo.) played 54 minutes in goal for the Pioneers before giving way to junior keeper Lara Campbell(Anchorage, Alaska), who made her season debut after suffering an injury in the preseason.
Junior forward Megan Connor brought the Dons to within two in the 67th minute on an assist from freshman forward Mackenzie Krieser. That’s as close as USF would come, as Campbell was up to the task on the Dons next four shots on target.
DU will continue play in the California Invitational on Sunday, Sep. 4, when they take on host California at 4 p.m. MT.