Magazine Feature

Fall sports preview: Directors’ Cup win kicks off a new season

The women’s soccer team dominated last year to the tune of 18-2-1 and won the Summit League in its first year after joining. Denver will enter play this season as the favorite to win the Summit League.

The women’s soccer team dominated last year to the tune of 18-2-1 and won the Summit League in its first year after joining. Denver will enter play this season as the favorite to win the Summit League.

The University of Denver again claimed the top spot among NCAA Division I non-football schools in June, earning its record sixth Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup over the last seven years. The National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) awards Directors’ Cups each year to the top schools in NCAA Divisions I–III and the top school in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, as well as a separate cup for the top Division I non-football school.

Nearly every sport contributed to the Pioneers’ win, as 13 of DU’s 17 varsity programs received NCAA postseason berths and the ski team won its 22nd NCAA National Championship. In the overall standings, the Pioneers finished 26 spots ahead of Providence to become the highest-ranked non-football athletic department in the nation. The 43rd-place national finish is also the program’s highest placing.

Here is a closer look at the upcoming season for the fall sports that contributed to the Directors’ Cup win.



The volleyball team was defeated in the conference championship game last season to complete consecutive 17-13 seasons. Head coach Jesse Mahoney will look to change the team’s fortunes this season, however, as one of the most exciting recruiting classes in the country has signed on to play for the Pioneers. ranked DU’s incoming class the 28th best in the nation, the first time Denver has cracked the top 30. The new recruits include outside hitter Cassie Baird; setter Piyusha Boteju; middle blocker Nikki Kennedy; libero Taylor Loyd; right side hitter Kayla Principato; libero Cassidy Rooke; and Pepperdine transfer Monique Domme.

The six new freshmen and one transfer should help the Pioneers become one of the deepest and most talented teams in the conference and to compete for the Summit League title.



The Pioneers hockey team advanced to the NCAA Northeast Regional in 2014 after winning the Frozen Faceoff tournament in the newly formed National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC), marking its school-record seventh consecutive NCAA berth. Denver remains the lone team in college hockey to post 13 consecutive 20-win seasons. The Pioneers also landed 19 members on the All-NCHC Academic Team, as well as being the only team in the league to place two players on the first team All-NCHC squad: goaltender Sam Brittain, who graduated in June, and returning senior defenseman Joey LaLeggia.

The Pioneers look to defend their NCHC title this season with a strong group of student-athletes returning and a good crop of newcomers added to the team. With the loss of Brittain, who led the NCHC in save percentage last year, sophomore Evan Cowley will likely be given first chance to start at goal after seeing limited time last season. The 2014–15 recruiting class also includes Tanner Jaillet, the former Canadian Junior Hockey League’s top goaltender. If Cowley and Jaillet can put together the kind of production Brittain enjoyed in his final season, Denver will be well-positioned to continue its upward ascent.

“I think we’re going to be a much better hockey team this year, and my expectations are that we’re going to be a top team not only in our conference but a top team nationally,” says head coach Jim Montgomery. “That being said, the NCHC is like the group of death. There are no easy nights.”



The men and women of the Denver swimming and diving team won the Summit League Championship last season under head coach Brian Schrader and head diving coach Channing Kimball. The Pioneers will look to repeat the feat this season as they return to the team two Summit League Swimmers of the year: junior Dylan Bunch and senior Samantha Corea.

Corea’s seventh-place finish in the 200 backstroke at the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships in March makes her the highest placing female Pioneer in history, while also qualifying her as an All-American. Bunch also achieved All-American status at the 1650 free.

Corea went on to have a great summer, finishing second in the 50 butterfly and third in the 100 back at the 2014 Canadian Swimming Championships. In addition, sophomore Johanna Roas placed second in the 50 backstroke at German nationals, and junior Andrew Torres set an event record with his win in the 200 butterfly finals at the 2014 USA Swimming/Speedo Champions Series Western Region Section Championship. The strong results set the Pioneers up for a great collegiate season.



The women’s soccer team dominated last year to the tune of 18-2-1 and won the Summit League in its first year after joining. Last year also marked the second-straight season the Pioneers have hosted an NCAA first round championship game, though DU was upset in the opener in 2013. The team has thrived under head coach Jeff Hooker, who won his 300th game as head coach last season, including a regular season 3-0 victory against rival Colorado.

Though it is losing star player Kristen Hamilton, the team is returning 13 players from last year and adds another 10 in freshmen and transfers. Denver will enter play as the favorite to win the Summit League.



Men’s soccer enjoyed similar success last year, going 13-3-3 and winning the conference championship. The team was defeated in the first round of the NCAA tournament in a shootout loss to Louisville. Despite the bitter end to the season, the team believes it can achieve a great level of success this year.

The team returns 19 letter winners to the roster, although the Pioneers will certainly miss midfielder Zach Bolden, who is heading to Major League Soccer to play with the Chicago Fire. Bolden led the team in goals, assists and points last year, as well as taking home offensive-player-of-the-year honors for the Summit League. Goalkeeper of the Year Oliver Brown will return, however, along with Reid Hukari, Jordan Schweitzer and Taylor Hunter, all of whom were first team all-league selections.

“I think we will go into the season with a target on our chest, and hopefully we find that same leadership we had last year to make sure we stay focused,” says head coach Bobby Muuss. “We understand that it’s not going to be easy, but our goal right now is to win both the regular season and the conference championship.”

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