(CBS4) – Last week, University of Denver men’s soccer goalie Kobe Gray had the highlight of his career.

The Pioneers’ redshirt senior hadn’t played in a game since September, but in the Summit League tournament semifinal, with the game going to a penalty shootout, head coach Jamie Franks called on Gray, and he delivered by stopping 3 of 5 shots and sending the Pios to the conference championship game.

“[Coach] instilling that confidence in me, it was everything,” Gray said. “He even started yelling from the sidelines, ‘Kobe this is your moment; be the star.’ That was the highlight of my career.”

(credit: CBS)

“Having Kobe step up and own his role, it just shows the team that, as long as everyone steps up and plays their role and does their job, the system works,” Franks added.

Two days later, the Pios were in the Summit League Championship game, and once again went to penalty kicks. Franks called on his senior goalie once more, and once more, he delivered, stopping 4 of the 6 shots he faced, helping DU clinch a spot in the NCAA Tournament.

“It was kind of euphoric,” Gray explained. “I feel like I hit the flow state. Not once did I think my season would be over.”

“This is my last year here. My best friends, this is their last year as well, all that pressure and keeping our season alive, keeping their careers going, it was a lot [of pressure] but wow, was the payoff worth it.”

The Pios will play their opening round game of the NCAA tournament Thursday against Grand Canyon. It’s the Pios’ eleventh trip to the NCAA Tournament.

Michael Spencer