DENVER - The University of Denver women's soccer team has had September 7th circled on its calendar since the schedule was released last spring. For the fourth time in five years, the Pioneers defeated in-state rival Colorado, this time by a count of 4-1 in front of 1,202 fans on Friday evening at CIBER Field at the University of Denver Soccer Stadium.
Denver got goals from sophomore defender Sam Harder (Centennial, Colo.), junior midfielder Nicholette DiGiacomo (Golden, Colo.), junior forward Kristen Hamilton(Littleton, Colo.) and sophomore midfielder Anna Willis (Centennial, Colo.) on its way to its third-straight win.
"We did a great job of starting the game off well," head coach Jeff Hooker said. "I think the difference between this game and some of our other ones was just the combination play, the energy that we played with and the various ways we attacked."
Hamilton drew a foul in the third minute to set up Harder's 28-yard free kick that gave Denver an early 1-0 lead. Harder beat CU goalkeeper Annie Brunner in the upper-right corner to give DU the breakthrough.
Two minutes later, Hamilton played a ball to DiGiacomo in the middle of the field. DiGiacomo found space 22 yards out and hit a screamer past the CU keeper to give Denver the early double.
After setting up the first two goals, Hamilton netted a goal of her own in a way that would give fans flashbacks of her 2011 season. Senior forward Kalie Vaughn (Fort Collins, Colo.) made a run down the right side and slid a pass on the ground into the center of the box for Hamilton. The 2011 Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year used her body positioning to get around the Buffs' center-backs, and found the back of the net with a 12-yard strike. Denver took the 3-0 lead into the locker room.
CU pulled one back in the 60th minute on a Denver own goal. The goal snapped a 343-minute stretch in which Denver hadn't allowed a goal.
In the 69th minute, senior forwad Kaitlin Bast (Centennial, Colo.) found an open Willis on the right side at the top of the box. Willis slid her shot across the face of goal and inside the far post to give Denver its three-goal lead back.
The Pioneers outshot the Buffs 23-14, and held a 6-3 advantage in corners.
"It seemed to me like it was the most unselfish I've seen our team play," Hooker said. "It didn't matter who we were passing to or who was running off the ball, the choreography and the movement were great, and the unselfishness of everybody was fantastic."
Denver will wrap-up the Denver Invitational on Sunday against UC Irvine at 1:15 p.m. MT at CIBER Field. CU and Cincinnati will kickoff Sunday's matches at 11 a.m.
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.
Visit DenverPioneers.com for complete coverage of all 17 of DU's NCAA Division I sports.
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