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2015 Denver Team and Recruiting Class Review

School – University of Denver 
Conference – Summit League
Coach – Jamie Franks (First Season)
Background – The Pioneers are under new management in 2015 as Jamie Franks takes over the head coahing job from Bobby Muuss who accepted the head coaching job at Wake Forest.  Franks is no stranger to the Denver program having served as an assistant coach under Muuss for three seasons. Muuss had a very successful eight year tenure in Denver during which time the Pioneers earned four NCAA Tournament berths including back-to-back appearances in 2013 and 2014 for the first time in the history of the program. The Pioneers also won back-to-back Summit League regular season and tournament titles in 2013 and 2014. Denver finished the 2014 season with an 11-8-1 overall record that included a 3-2-1 mark in league play.  The Pioneers were 11-0-0 when playing at home in 2014 and have now won seventeen straight contests when playing in the friendly confines of CIBER Field at the University of Denver Soccer Stadium. Denver's 2014 season came to an end in the first round of the NCAA Tournament when they were topped 1-0 by Oregon State. 
Offense – Junior forward Eric Kronenberg (7g, 1a), a 2014 All-Summit League Second Team selection, returns to lead the Pioneer attack.  However, the Pioneers face the challenge of filling the void that the graduation of forward Kosta Kordistos, a Second Team All-Summit League selection, and midfielders Teddy Mullin (6g, 1a) and Brian Holt (5g, 1a) creates on the offensive side of the ball. Sophomore Cole Stevenson (1g, 2a), who was named to the 2014 Summit League All-Newcomer Team, and Redshirt Junior Chandler Crosswait who missed the 2014 season due to injury are among other returning players who should be in the mix for playing time up-top.  Senior Jordan Schwitzer (1g, 0a), who has been a starter for the past three season and was a 2014 All-Summit League First Team selection, returns to set the pace in the midfield. He will be joined by returning starters senior Karstein Hanlin (2g, 3a) and junior Sam Hamilton (0g, 4a).  Sophomore midfielders Alex Underwood (0g, 2a) and A.J. Fuller (0g, 2a) should also compete for playing time in the midfield. Senior Alex Toderica and junior James Cochran are among other returning players who will seek to play a greater role in 2015.  Forward Andre Shinyashiki out of the Montverde Academy and midfielder Ryan Barlow out of the FC Dallas Academy are among the newcomers who could add additional punch on the offensive side of the ball.  
Defense – The backline requires some rebuilding due to the graduation of backs Ryan Dodson and Taylor Hunter. Redshirt junior Reagan Dunk, a 2014 All-Summit League Second Team selection, and sophomore centerback Konte Ford, a 2014 All-Summit League Second Team selection, return to anchor the backline.  Sophomore Nick Gardner who played in five games last year and Junior Ryan Massey who saw action in ten contests return in goal.  Defender Tosh Samkange who played for the Seattle Sounder Academy is among the newcomers who should compete for playing time in the back.

Newcomers – Four Star Recruiting Class

Coach Franks stated, "Our 2015 class is a special one that has taken us quite some time to assemble, and fills immediate needs for our team.  They all fit into our high tempo pressing system that is featured around our possession."

Andre Shinyashiki – Forward – Sao Paulo, Brazil – Montverde Academy – Ranked by CSN as the number 79 player in the class of 2015.  Played club for Pequeninos do Jocky.  MAST MVP at Montverde Academy. 

Ryan Barlow – Midfielder – Coppell, Texas – Coppell High School – Ranked by CSN as the number 75 player in the class of 2015. Played for the U-14 National Team in 2011.  Played for FC Dallas Academy.  

Frank Carsonie – Midfielder – Hilliard, Ohio – St. Charles Prep – Played club for Columbus Crew Academy.  Played for Dynamo club team. 

Tosh Samkange – Defender – Sammamish, Washington – Eastlake High School – Ranked by CSN as the number 110 player in the class of 2015.  Played for Seattle Sounders Academy.  Also played with Washington club Crossfire Premier.  

Ryan Schaefer – Forward – Burien, Washington – Kennedy Catholic High School – Played for the Seattle Sounders Academy for two seasons.

Shae Smalley – Defender – Columbus, Ohio – Oletangy Orange High School – Played for the Columbus Crew Academy from 2012 through 2015. Team Captain. 

Prognosis for 2015 – A change in head coaches always creates somewhat of a transition but it should be a relatively smooth one since Jamie Franks has served as an assistant coach at Denver for three seasons under Bobby Muuss.  Franks like Muuss has an excellent track record as a recruiter and is a good fit for Denver's up-tempo, high pressure system of play that features possession and movement off the ball. Junior forward Eric Kronenberg who came off the bench last year to lead the Pioneer attack with seven goals will be called upon to power the attack in 2015. The Pioneers will be without players who netted twenty-one of the thirty-two goals they scored last year so some new faces will need to step forward to contribute to the offense. Senior Jordan Schweitzer who was an All-Summit League First Team selection in 2013 and 2014 looks to be the guy who will play a key role in setting the the pace in 2015. Junior Sam Hamilton and senior Karsten Hanlin are among key returning midfielders. Franks will also likely look to sophomores like defender Kortne Ford, forward Cole Stevenson, and midfielders Alex Underwood, and A.J. Fuller to make a bigger contribution in 2015. The backline requires some rebuilidng but Ford and redshirt junior Reagan Dunk provide a good foundation upon which to build. Nick Gardner and Ryan Massey return to give the Pioneers two experienced goalkeepers. The Pioneers remain the team to beat in the Summit League and should continue to be a very competitve side particullary if the newcomers are able to help plug some of the gaps but the bottom line is that they go into the 2015 season with more than the usual number of unanswered questions on both sides of the ball.    


Posted in 2015 Team Reviews

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