Nov. 9, 2017
 Denver 1-0  Eastern Illinois (Elder 39’) | Photos
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OMAHA – Redshirt-senior Blake Elder’s (Fort Worth, Texas) first-half goal and the top-seeded [-/30] University of Denver men’s soccer team’s eighth cleansheet of the season booked the Pioneers’ ticket to Saturday’s Summit League Final after a 1-0 win over Eastern Illinois on Thursday afternoon at Caniglia Field.
“Being the five-time regular season champs, going 18-0-2 in those five years and now 9-0 in the league tournament, the guys in my locker room have a lot of experience in these types of matches,” head coach Jamie Franks said. “Being able to take that experience with them is critical at this time of year. These tournament games are always decided by small margins. We’ve had a lot of adversity during the regular season and have been on the wrong side of luck.
“I’ve been impressed with the leadership of this group, especially the last several weeks, and I think this group is peaking at the right time.”
Elder got back on the scoresheet for the first time since opening night in the 39th minute. After senior outside back AJ Fuller (Littleton, Colo.) was fouled just inside Denver’s defensive half, Summit League Freshman of the Year Jacob Stensson (Stockholm, Sweden) played a quick restart, clipping his free kick in behind the Eastern Illinois back line. Elder ran onto the ball, took a touch to his left, and hit it hard and low past goalkeeper Mike Novotny. The goal was Elder’s second of the campaign and the ninth of his two-year Pioneer career.
Thursday’s assist for Stensson was the fourth of his rookie season. Denver outshot Eastern Illinois 8-3 in the opening 45 minutes and took all three corner kicks in the first half.
“Eastern is a very good team and is super well coached,” Franks said. “We had trouble with them in Denver in the regular season. Our opponents in the conference always play us tough, and results like this don’t come easy. We know in Championship games like the one we are going to play in on Saturday, we need our big players to step up.”
Denver allowed just two shots on goal on Thursday afternoon, bringing Denver’s defensive mark to 11 in six matches against league opposition this season. Denver has allowed two shots on goal or less in eight matches this season.
The Pioneers outshot Eastern Illinois 11-5 in the match and held a 4-2 edge in corners.
UP NEXT: Denver will take on third-seeded and hosts Omaha in the Summit League Final on Saturday at Caniglia Field. Kickoff is set for 2 p.m. CT/1 p.m. MT, and the match will be streamed live on thesummitleague.org.
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Student-Athlete Alumni Giving Challenge:
In 2017-18, the University of Denver is holding an alumni giving challenge in an effort to increase student-athlete alumni participation in the Denver Athletics Annual Fund. The sport program with the highest percentage of alumni participation will receive an additional $10,000 of support through the generosity of an anonymous donor. Former student-athletes can make a gift online, by calling 303-871-2388 during normal business hours or by sending a check to:
Athletics Development Office
Attn: Kaley Rickert
2201 E. Asbury Avenue
Denver, CO 80208
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