By: Kelly Shipp
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – The University of Denver Pioneers will begin the 2018 NCAA Men's Soccer Tournament on Sunday at 3 p.m. (MT) when they host Air Force in the second round of the national tournament. The 15th seeded Pioneers earned a first-round bye after earning one of the 16 national seeds that automatically advance to the second round.
The Air Force Academy (16-4, 8-2 WAC) won their opening round contest on Thursday against the University of Central Arkansas, 4-0. The match was played at the Cadet Soccer Stadium on the Air Force campus. Air Force controlled the match against Central Arkansas, out-shooting the Bears 18-11 on their way to their 16th win of the season
Five Things to Know for the second round of the NCAA Men's Soccer Tournament
- Denver will be making their eighth NCAA Tournament appearance in program history on Sunday. Entering the contest against the Falcons, the Pioneers have an all-time NCAA Tournament record of 4-6-1, including three wins in 2016 that led Denver to their first College Cup appearance, soccer's final four. With their College Cup appearance in 2016, Denver became the first Summit League team to reach an NCAA Final Four.
- Sunday's match between Denver and Air Force will be the two programs first official meeting since 2012 when the two clubs were members of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation. The Pioneers and Falcons have met in scrimmages during the past few seasons.
- The Pioneers are coached by Jamie Franks who has accumulated an impressive 61-11-10 record in his 3+ seasons as the head coach at Denver. Since his arrival to the staff in 2012, the Pioneers have earned a record of 96-28-18. Between his coaching and playing career, Franks has done it all. He has a combined record of 195-55-35 with five College Cup appearances and one national championship with Wake Forest in 2007.
- Denver has been almost unbeatable when they find the back of the net first. Since 2012 the Pioneers have posted a record of 87-3-8 when they score the match's first goal. Their last loss when scoring first came back on Sept. 30, 2017, when Denver lost 2-1 in extra time to Gonzaga. They haven't lost a home contest when scoring first since 2009 when they lost 2-1 to UMKC. This season the Pioneers have outscored their opponents 13-3 in the opening half hour of matches.
- Denver swept The Summit League postseason awards this year with Andre Shinyashiki being named the offensive player of the year, Scott DeVoss being named the defensive player of the year, Will Palmquist earning goalkeeper of the year, Callum Stretch earning newcomer of the year and Franks being named coach of the year. The Pioneers have been led all season by Shinyahskik, who leads the NCAA in goals scored (28), points (60), goals per game (1.40), points per game (3.00), shots per game (3.00) and game-winning goals (11).