Magazine Feature / People

Men’s soccer team kicks off season, aims high

The DU men’s soccer team may be young, but their players are skilled, talented and ready to face one of the most competitive schedules in the nation.

“We have the talent to be the best team in the conference,” head coach Bobby Muuss says. “We are a young team and we are going to have to mold a new team together.”

The team is looking to capitalize on last year’s success. The Pioneers clinched their first Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) championship with an 8-1-1 league record. With an overall mark of 10-7-2, DU made its first NCAA tournament appearance since 1970 but lost in the first round.

The Pioneers also dominated conference awards. Forward Kyle Christensen was the 2008 MPSF Player of the Year, and Sam Garza was the 2008 MPSF Newcomer-of-the-Year. Additionally, all 11 DU starters were named to the All-MPSF teams.

This year, DU will miss sophomore Garza for up to 5 games as he competes for the United States national team in the FIFA Under-20 World Cup in Cairo, Egypt. Garza already has played with the team in Argentina and Trinidad and Tobago.

The team has several goals for the season including winning the MPSF conference, but ultimately the Pioneers hope to compete for the NCAA championship.

“The only reason we are going to try to get to the NCAA tournament is to win it,” Muuss says.

The team will be looking to the experience of transfer Jesse Henderson, who played three seasons with the University of San Francisco. Muuss says Henderson brings leadership to their young group, including NCAA tournament experience.

Following an exhibition home game against Stanford on Aug. 29, Denver will kick off its 2009 season at the Duke Classic in North Carolina on Sept. 4 and its home schedule against Dayton on Sept. 11 and Belmont on Sept. 13.

The Pioneers also will move into a new soccer stadium early this season, but construction delays will force the team to play games elsewhere at the outset. Check the DU Athletics Web site for more information on game locations.

“We are opening a brand new stadium with a new field and lights. We are playing a very competitive schedule this season, but I believe we have some very good returning guys and some very good young ones joining the program,” Muuss says. “There are certain expectations following last season, and with the addition of the new stadium we want to make sure we don’t let anyone down.”

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