OMAHA, Neb. – Freshman winger Stefan DeLeone was in the right place at the right time to pressure Creighton's back-four into an error in extra time, and punished the Blue Jays with the second goal of his rookie year to take the No. 5 University of Denver men's soccer team past No. 8 Creighton on Tuesday night at Morrison Stadium.
"I'm really proud of the group," head coach Jamie Franks said. "Our identity is fighting football and that's a toughness and grit on every single play, and the guys showed that tonight. There was a resiliency among the group, a collectiveness and a positive vibe throughout. To be able to come on the road with a young squad, not give up many quality chances and win the game is a testament to the group."
Denver played without senior starting winger Kenny Akamatsu and sophomore starting holding mid Jacob Stensson on Tuesday evening, after Akamatsu was sent off for a first-half foul at Eastern Illinois and Stensson picked up his fifth yellow of the season on Saturday afternoon.
The Pioneers started six freshmen and three sophomores in the win on Tuesday in-front of 3,076 fans in Creighton's first loss in a top-10 match-up at Morrison Stadium in seven matches (5-1-1).
In a scoreless first half, the shots were split five a side, with the Pioneers putting two shots on goal in the opening six minutes. Senior Andre Shinyashiki beat a couple of defenders down the Denver right, but his first-minute attempt was pushed aside for a corner. Shinyashiki drew a foul in the sixth minute to create another chance for Denver, but freshman centerback Callum Stretch's free kick from 25 yards was knocked over the bar by Creighton keeper Paul Kruse and out for Denver's second first-half corner.
Denver's defense absorbed Creighton's pressure in the second half, but only allowed three shots on goal without a high quality chance in the second 45, clearing its lines to send the match to extra time, the Pioneers fifth match that has needed more than 90 minutes this season.
Creighton held a majority of the possession in the first overtime, but a double save from redshirt-sophomore Will Palmquist in his first start of the season sent the teams into a second period of extra time.
The Pioneers took control of the second 10-minute overtime session, creating two shots and two corners before DeLeone took advantage of a mis-touched pass in Creighton's defense and slid his shot in from 12 yards out just to the right of the penalty spot to send the Pioneers to their ninth win of the season.
Denver kept its sixth shutout of the season, while Palmquist earned the second solo shutout of his collegiate career.