If you ask anyone in college soccer, the Denver Pioneers have made it.
They're the third ranked team in the country heading into the 2017 season. They have the third best record in the nation over the past five years. They've sent former players like Kortne Ford to the pros, and figure to send more in the next few years.
But, in their eyes, they haven't made it, at least, not to the top.
"I think our goal is the same as it was last year, to win a national championship" DU Junior Andre Shinyashiki said. "I don't think we're going to be satisfied with anything less this year."
Last year, the Pioneers were nearly perfect. But, it turned out that perfection was needed to reach their goal. DU's only loss of the season came in the NCAA semifinals against Wake Forest. It would have been the team's first trip to the national championship in school history.
"We were maybe new to the scene, and lacked a little belief," Senior Captain Graham Smith said. "But, we've talked about it this entire winter, this entire spring and this entire spring season. We're all on the same page. A national championship is our goal."
Every single player on the team will say the same thing. It doesn't matter that they've lost a few key pieces from last year's squad. The Pioneers are not making excuses, and they're not lowering expectations. They're just raising their effort.
"A lot of people come in and say they want to be the next Denver," Head Coach Jamie Franks said. "But, they really don't. My kids work extremely hard. So, to top it off with a national championship, when we were so close last season, that would mean everything."
As for what it will take to make that next step, Denver is ready.
"I think it takes a lot more resiliency," DU redshirt senior Thomas Blake Elder said. "When we get to those moments when the game is tight, it's going to take more resiliency. We got close to a national championship last year. But, we didn't reach our goal. So, we're ready to go back this year."
"I'm just excited, and I know the rest of the guys are as well, to bring a national championship to the University of Denver," Shinyashiki said.
And, only then will the Pioneers have made it. At least, that's the case in their eyes.
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