DENVER — Sophomore Andre Shinyashiki netted the equalizer in the 45th minute and scored his third game-winner of the year in the 108th to send Denver to its second consecutive unbeaten regular season after the Pioneers defeated Portland 2-1 on Thursday night at CIBER Field at the University of Denver Soccer Stadium. With the win, Denver’s regular season unbeaten streak will start the 2017 campaign at 35 matches (started Halloween, 2014).
“Our players’ commitment level over the last two years has been incredible,” coach Jamie Franks said. “I don’t think they’ve received the notoriety they deserve for this run we’ve been on. Tell me the last team that’s gone undefeated back-to-back regular seasons.
“Any time you outshoot a team 16-3, you should put the game away. They scored on their first shot on goal and then didn’t get another shot on goal the rest of the game. For Andre to score another extra time goal is why I think he is a big time player. He missed a chance or two that he normally scores, but to be able to score the goal he did late is a testament to his character.”
Shinyashiki’s brace on Thursday night was his first of the season and the second of his career.
Portland (11-4-1) opened the scoring in the 37th minute as a Benji Michel cross was deflected and fell to the top of the box to the feet of Gio Magana-Rivera who smashed it in for his third of the campaign.
Shinyashiki grabbed his fourth goal of the season just before halftime. Denver’s equalizer started after junior Alex Underwood had a penalty claim at the top of the box, but the ball deflected off a Portland defender to redshirt-senior Karsten Hanlin who crossed it to the back post to the run of Shinyashiki for the headed goal.
Denver (15-0-3) outshot Portland 7-2 in the opening 45 minutes and 14-3 in regulation, while also taking six of the eight corners in the first 90 minutes. For the second home match in the last three, the Pioneers would head to extra time deadlocked at 1-1.
The Sao Paulo, Brazil, native made it four goals in his last four matches with the 108th minute winner. Junior defensive midfielder Graham Smith picked out Shinyashiki at the top left corner of the box. Shinyashiki spun his man twice before firing a shot into the upper-left hand corner for his fifth of 2016.
Denver will host the 2016 Summit League Men’s Soccer Championships on Nov. 10 and Nov. 12. The Pioneers earned a share of their fourth straight Summit League regular-season title with a 0-0 draw at Omaha on Saturday.
Denver would take the top seed into the Summit League tournament with an Oral Roberts win or draw when the Golden Eagles host Omaha next week, or Denver would take the top spot on goals for with a 1-0 Omaha win and would take the top spot on shutouts in league play with a 2-1 Omaha win. Omaha would take the top seed at CIBER Field in two weeks with a two-goal win or a 3-2 one-goal win or higher.
“This is goal number two of the season,” Franks said. “We want to play in knockout style games in November and December, and Thursday will be the first one. The focus, urgency and accountability all need to raise a level as we approach these knockout style games.”