Denver - Three and A Half Star Recruiting Class - The Pioneers had a good year in 2012 with a 11-6-3 overall record and a 5-4-1 mark in MPSF play. Clearly a significant improvement from the disappointing 2011 season in which Denver was 5-11-3 overall with a 3-6-1 mark in conference play. Coach Bobby Muuss hopes the 2013 season will be an even better year for the Pioneers who will begin play in the Summit League after many seasons of play in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation.
Denver will supplement their 2013 roster with a seven member recruiting class that may not have the bells and whistles in their resumes that some of Muuss’ previous classes have had but it is a group that in the long run could prove to be more productive than prior classes. Muuss stated, “During my tenure at the University of Denver, this might be one of the best recruiting classes we have brought in from top to bottom.” Forward Alex Toderica, who played for the Colorado Rapids Development Academy and is rated by College Soccer News as one of the top 150 players coming out of the class of 2013, is among the newcomers who could contribute immediately.
The Summit League could prove to be a very good fit for Denver and looks to be a great addition to the league. Perhaps the ultimate litmus test is the impact that league affiliation has upon recruiting and that of course remains to be seen. Hopefully Denver can continue to help their standing in that regard not to mention their strength of schedule with a non-conference slate that includes contests with several highly regarded opponents.
The Pioneers look to be in good shape heading into the 2013 campaign despite the loss of right back Drew Beckie 2g, 3a), left back Blake Shannon (5g, 2a), forwards Josh Wren (8g, 4a) and Joe Eubanks (1g, 0a), and midfielder Mark Weigand (1g, 3a) due to graduation .
Senior forward Zach Bolden (5g, 10a), a 2012 First Team All-MPSF selection, returns to power the attack and should be among the premier players in the Summit League. Bolden has the athleticism and the ability to make a play when needed to pose a serious threat to opposing defenders. Junior Ryan Dodson (2g, 2a) is among other returning forwards who will likely team with Bolden to give the Pioneers a multi-dimensional offense.
In the midfield, Denver looks to be talented and deep. Senior Cole Campbell (3g, 1a), junior Taylor Hunter (0g, 1a) and sophomore Jordan Schweitzer who had an impressive rookie season are among returning midfielders who were starters last year. Redshirt junior Reid Hukari (0g, 1a) who saw action in only five contests last year due to illness looks to be healthy and ready to assume a greater role in 2013. Juniors Brian Hoyt (4g, 1a) and Kasey Esponda, sophomores Chandler Crosswait (1g, 1a) and Logan McHugh (1g, 0a) and senior Anees Abdulgasem (2g, 0a) are among returning midfielders who should be in the hunt for additional playing time. Midfielder Karsten Hanlin who redshirted last year should also be in the mix in 2013.
The departure of defenders Beckie and Shannon who were 2012 All-MPSF Second Team selections and four-year starters leaves a big gap to be plugged. Returning defenders include senior Blair Jeralds (1g, 0a) and Theodore Remann (1g, 1a) who were starters last year as well as senior Jack Henderson (0g, 1a) who saw action in eighteen contests in 2012. Highly regarded redshirt freshman Reagan Dunk should also be in contention for a starting role.
Junior Oliver Brown who was the starter in goal last year returns with two years of starting experience under his belt. Last year Brown had a 1.11 goals against average. Redshirt sophomore Nate Esler who played in three matches last year also returns between the pipes.
Reflecting on the 2012 season Muuss stated, “Moving forward, we have to pay attention a little bit more to detail. We’ve got to be a little bit more meticulous with how we attack and how we defend.” Some might interpret that to mean that if the Pioneers develop the right habits, stay focused, and consistently do all the little things well then everything else will pretty much take care of itself.
Denver has attracted its share of talented players over the past few years. The big question now is whether that individual talent can be merged together to form a cohesive team that is greater than the sum of the individual parts. If the 2013 team gels, the Pioneers should challenge for Summit League supremacy and a return trip to the NCAA Tourney.
Jared Cochran - Midfielder - Evergreen, Colorado, Evergreen High School - Plays club soccer for the Colorado Rush of the Development Academy. First Team All-Conference. Second Team All-State.
Josh Durham - Defender - Houston, Texas - Memorial High School - Plays for Houston Texans SC of the U-18 Development Academy. Two-time First Team All-District selection.
Sam Hamilton - Midfielder - Evergreen, Colorado - Evergreen High School - Plays club soccer for the Colorado Rush U-18 Academy. Second Team All-Colorado selection.
Kosta Kordistos - Forward - Lippstadt, Germany - Fort Lewis - Transfer from NCAA Division II Fort Lewis. Played in 22 matches for Fort Lewis with 11 starts.
Eric Kronenberg - Forward - Boulder, Colorado - Fairview High School - Plays for the Colorado Rapids Development Academy U-18 team. First Team All-Colorado. First Team All-Front Range League.
Kyle Morlack - Midfielder - Goodyear, Arizona - Millennium High School - Plays for SC del Sol in Arizona. Arizona 94 ODP team. Second Team All-Arizona selection.
Alex Toderica - Forward - Longmont, Colorado - Holy Family High School - Rated by CSN as the number 70 player in the class of 2013. Plays for the Colorado Rapids Development Academy.