The Denver University Pioneers withstood mid-twenties temperatures and bitter snow squalls during a 2022 version of Snow Clasico at Pioneers Field yesterday. The Crimson and Gold were out hustling around on a rock-like pitch during their opening round match in the NCAA D1 Tourney against the University of San Diego.
The Pioneers prevailed and defeated San Diego, 1-0, when Kengo Ohira scored the game winner early in stoppage time. The senior from Tokyo, Japan drilled a blistering shot from within the 18-yard box to finish of the Toreros, who played a man down from the 56th minute until the final whistle.
“Kengo is a really good player who is finding his form again at the right time,” said the complementary head coach, Jamie Franks.
“I thought we used halftime to better ourselves. We changed some things in our system of play. Our plan coming in could have worked but with the conditions, we couldn’t get the ball down and get the rhythm and the tempo that we really wanted to. After going a man-up, it was important to take the right calculated risks, and I thought we did that tonight.”
Denver is now 3-0-0 this season when playing with a man-advantage.
The 13th goal of his career, and the second @NCAASoccer Tournament goal for Kengo Ohira. #GoPios pic.twitter.com/mIXH9CjsKa— Denver MSoccer (@DU_MSoccer) November 17, 2022
With the victory, they improved to 6-9-1 in the NCAA Tournament play. In winning, in be will the program’s fifth time moving on the second round play.
They finished 5-0-3 in ACC play, and 11-1-4 overall.
Standouts in yesterday’s match included Colorado Rapids Academy grad, goalkeeper Isaac Nehme. He recorded his 10th solo shutout of his freshman season- the third most in a single season in Denver’s D1 history.
He made six impressive saves during the extended game.
Both Rapids Academy alumni, Sam Bassett and Real Soccer product, Ben Smith almost came up big with goals late in the game.
In the 83rd minute of play, Smith nearly scored, however, his strike was stuffed in front of the net. Bassett could have upped Denver’s lead, but his strong shot on goal go just wide of the vertical pipe.
Nearly 200 fans braved the snow and cold, and warmed the Pios with cheers from start to finish.