CU sophomore Kelly Butler prepares to take a shot against Denver goalkeeper Lara Campbell. The Buffs won 1-0 in overtime. (CU Independent/Adam Alberti)
There wasn’t too much separating the Colorado Buffaloes and the Denver Pioneers at the Colorado Soccer Classic in Boulder.
However, there was one notable difference on Friday: Nikki Marshall.
“That last minute, it could have been anyone that scored,” Marshall said.
After 108 minutes of deadlocked soccer, it was Marshall, the senior and current all-time leading scorer, who would open and close the scoring line at Prentup Field on Friday, by scoring her third goal of the season in the overtime period to give CU the 1-0 win.
“I am so proud of my team today,” Marshall said. “They were amazing.”
The goal was Marshall’s 17th career game-winning goal.
“I was in awe,” said head coach Bill Hempen. “For them to stay in and keep pushing through, I was very proud of them today for how they stuck in the game.”
The Buffs (3-1, 1-0 Big 12) applied more pressure on the Pioneers defense during the first half, attacking at a greater rate than Denver (2-1-1).
In the first clear opportunity for the Buffs, Marshall, playing as a defender, gave a spectacular half-field run in the 15th minute of the first half.
It was one of several displays of her speed, a characteristic Hempen believes is key.
“She gains separation from players, and there are very few people who can catch her,” Hempen said.
Although senior goaltender Kara Linder touched the ball very few times, she was satisfied with her team’s performance.
“I didn’t see much action but our defense did extremely well,” Linder said. “I mean we pulled Nikki out of the back so she could play up top, and we had some people really step it up, so it made my job easier.”
Marshall has developed a routine of beginning the game as a defender, moving to the forward position only after the coaches have gotten the opportunity to measure the offense.
“We’re still trying to sort out our defense, it came a long way today,” Hempen said. “Once we felt we can handle the other teams attacking players, up she goes.”
As the second half continued, the Buffs began to raise the amount of attack on Denver, who matched the attack with equal prowess.
With a stalemate at the end of regulation, the golden goal rule was applied for overtime, meaning the first team to score would win the game.
“Right after Nikki scored, we had to stretch her calves because her calves cramped,” Linder said. “It was pretty funny, but it was really exciting.”
Both squads will resume play on Sunday, as CU takes on Oregon in the final day of the Colorado Classic at 2 p.m.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Esteban Hernandez at email@example.com.
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