Swander decides on DU soccer

Leah Swander likes a direct style of play when it comes to soccer.

It makes sense for the Grand Junction High School forward, who as a freshman and sophomore was the focal point of the Tigers’ offense with through-balls and lobs flung in her direction.

The quality of her offense, paired with footwork and size, was a perfect fit for the University of Denver.

Swander, now a junior, has verbally committed to DU.

“The coaches were super nice and welcoming and I liked their style of play,” Swander said. “It’s a really good. They’re very direct. They have one forward up top and they like to play that ball through to forward. It’s what I’m used to, and it’s also a very good school.”

Swander will join Fruita Monument standout Courtney Coffey, also a junior, at the NCAA Division I school. The two had played together since they were 6 years old, and Swander said Coffey is one of the reasons she will attend DU.

“Actually, without (Coffey) committing there, I wouldn’t have known they were interested in me,” Swander said. “I went down there a couple times, once with her, and I just fell in love with the place.”

Swander helped lead the Tigers to a 7-7-1 record this season. Although she battled minor injuries this season, Swander scored five goals and had two assists, also rotating through the midfield at different times during the season.

Pingel takes over at Central

Central girls soccer coach Jacob Pingel will have a lot on his plate next school year. Monday, Central High School announced Pingel will also be the boys soccer coach next fall.

Pingel, who spent five years as an assistant coach for the boys program, will coach both varsity soccer programs.

“It’s definitely an exciting challenge for me and I’m excited to get going,” Pingel said.

Although Pingel said there will be a slight rebuilding process after losing forward Matt Miller to graduation, the Warriors will benefit from an evenly matched Southwestern League.

“Matt Miller is certainly a talented and impressive soccer player,” Pingel said. “I did a little research on Central soccer and only a handful of players have had the kind of success Matt had here. So it will be a little bit of a rebuild for us, but there are a lot of good pieces on this team, and there isn’t going to be a team in the valley that is head-and-shoulders above everyone else this year.

“Grand Junction will have a good team, but Fruita Monument will be in full-on rebuilding mode after losing 12 seniors.”

Pingel will replace Doug Beach, who had a 22-48-3 record over five years.

During the 2013 season, the Warriors were 5-10 overall and 2-8 in the SWL. Miller scored over two-thirds of Central’s goals, but a young defense and junior goalkeeper Lorenzo Archuleta-Robles will be back for the Warriors.


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