Pioneers ready to take on Bears in NCAA clash

Denver captain Jacob Stensson has been an All-Summit League performer each of his three seasons and helped the Pioneers post back-to-back shutouts at the 2019 Summit League Championship to earn the league's NCAA Tournament berth.
Denver captain Jacob Stensson has been an All-Summit League performer each of his three seasons and helped the Pioneers post back-to-back shutouts at the 2019 Summit League Championship to earn the league's NCAA Tournament berth.

Release courtesy DenverPioneers.com

2019 NCAA Men's Soccer Tournament Bracket | Live Stats | ESPN3
 
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- 
Denver lifted its 12th Summit League trophy in its seven seasons as a league member following a 1-0 victory over Omaha last Saturday at the University of Denver Soccer Stadium. Junior transfer netted the 29th-minute breakthrough in the victory, earning Summit League Championship MVP honors. 

The Pioneers (6-11-3), who have won six Summit League regular-season and tournament championships, will begin their ninth NCAA Tournament on Thursday in a matchup with Missouri State (17-0-1). Thursday will mark the third all-time meeting between the two programs, and the first since 2009. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. CT/6 p.m. MT. The winner will advance to the second round and catch a flight to Florida to take on UCF Sunday at 6 p.m. ET/4 p.m. MT.

The 2009 season also marked the last time Missouri State made the NCAA Tournament field and the Bears are 0-3 in all-time in the postseason event. The Bears are the only undefeated team remaining in Division I and began the season with 17 consecutive-victories before earning a draw with Loyola-Chicago in the Missouri Valley Tournament final. The Ramblers would earn the league's automatic bid after edging the Bears 5-4 in penalty kicks.  

HEAD COACH JAMIE FRANKS                                           
•    Former DU assistant and Wake Forest alum Jamie Franks took over the reins, officially inking his name as Denver's 10th head coach, Aug. 29, 2015.
•    Franks is 67-23-13 as a head coach through four seasons with the Pioneers.
•    The Pioneers are 102-40-21 since Franks' arrival as an assistant coach prior to the start of the 2012 season.
•    Combined as a college player and coach, Franks is 201-67-38, reaching five College Cups and winning a National Championship with the Deacs in 2007.
•    According to information submitted to the NCAA in 2015, Franks was the youngest DI head coach (29) in his debut season, and was the second youngest in 2016.  

DENVER'S 2019 SCHEDULE                                           
•    Denver's 13 non-conference opponents averaged an RPI of just under 40 (including five top-20 programs), and posted a record of 143-81-30 a year ago.
•    The eight opponents that qualified for the 2018 NCAA Tournament combined for nine wins in the postseason. 
•    Denver entered the weekend (thru regular season) with the 25th-best strength of schedule in the country. That ranking has been as high as No. 1 earlier this season. 

LIMITING SHOTS                                      
• The Pioneers have allowed five shots or less in a match 52 times in their Division I history, going 41-8-3 in those matches.
• Denver has also held opponents to two shots on goal or less 102 times, recording an 87-10-5 record in those matches.
• The Pioneers have held 17 opponents without a shot on goal since turning DI in 1998, including in a 0-0 draw against Eastern Illinois on September 28. 
• DU held Saint Louis without a shot in its win in 2016, the only match Denver's opponents have been held without a shot in the Pioneers DI era. 
• Under Franks (since 2015), Denver has held opponents to five shots or less 25 times (22-1-2) and two shots on goal or less 46 times (42-3-1). 
• Denver has kept six clean sheets this season (4-0-2), including holding the sixth-best scoring offense in the country in Oral Roberts to just 1 shot on target in the Pioneers Summit League Semifinal win on November 14. 

KNOCKOUT FOOTBALL                                
•    Denver is 13-0-1 in Summit League Tournament play (LPK at Omaha in 2017).
•    The Pioneers appeared in their seventh-straight Summit League Final last Saturday, looking, winning their sixth Summit League postseason trophy.
•    Denver will make its ninth NCAA Tournament appearance on Thursday, going 4-7-1 in their previous trips to the national tournament. 
•    Three of Denver's losses have come in extra time, and the Pioneers lost their only NCAA Tournament draw on penalties at Louisville in 2013.

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