DENVER — Denver got a goal in the first half and two more in the second to upend Colorado College 3-1 in the NCAA tournament first round on Saturday at CIBER Field at the University of Denver Soccer Stadium. The victory is the Pioneers’ second NCAA tournament win in program history.
Senior forward Kaitlin Bast became the third Pioneer in school history to join the 100-point club, pacing the Pioneers (16-2-4) with two goals and an assist (five points) on Saturday. Junior forward Kristen Hamilton scored her team-leading 14th goal in the match as well.
“When we start games strong, and start halves strong it makes an impression on our team, and makes an impression on our opponent,” head coach Jeff Hooker said. “We switched things up a bit formation wise when we came out in the second half, a little bit because of the weather. We didn’t want to be too crazy and too aggressive. I thought our energy was really, really good.”
Denver’s striking tandem teamed up for the opening goal of the match, giving the Pioneers the lead in the 17th minute. Bast slipped a through ball behind the Tigers’ backline to kick-start the scoring play. Hamilton beat her mark to the ball, and beat the keeper one-on-one for the early breakthrough. Hamilton moved into a tie for fifth in program history for career goals with 37.
Heading into the locker room with a 1-0 lead at the intermission, the Pioneers looked to get a second goal early in the second half. Bast delivered her 11th of the season in the 54th minute, on assists from junior forward Nicholette DiGiacomo and Kalie Vaughn. DiGiacomo switched fields and found Vaughn down the right flank, freeing the Pioneer senior to get to the endline and play a clinical cross to the head of Bast, just outside the six-yard box to double the Pioneers’ advantage. The assist was the 24th of Vaughn’s career, moving her into a tie for sixth in program history.
Bast finished off the 11th multi-goal game of her career in the 63rd minute on an assist from junior defender Cassidy Larson. Denver’s right back found some space just inside the Pioneers’ attacking half and played a line-drive cross into the penalty area. Larson’s cross got through the backline and Bast out-slid her mark and flicked it into the back of the net with her right foot.
Colorado College (14-4-5) made it 3-1 in the 78th minute on a Kaeli Vandersluis goal, a rebounded finish off Hannah Peterson’s original shot on target. The Tigers went on to create a couple half-chances in the remaining 12 minutes, but none got by Campbell, securing the 3-1 win for Denver.
DU held a 17-12 advantage in shots and a 5-3 edge in corners.
Senior goalkeeper Lara Campbell made four saves in the match in her school-record 61st-career win.