The University of Colorado women’s soccer team are no longer winless in the Pac-12. A strong defensive performance kept the Buffs ahead in a tight 1-0 victory against California on Friday afternoon.
Despite being understaffed, the Buffs came out with the win.
Head coach Bill Hempen was unable to be on the sidelines due to a red card ejection he received against Oregon last Sunday.
The Buffs were also without their regular goalkeeper Annie Brunner, so Kayla Millar served as her replacement.
Kate Russel, 13, second from right, is embraced by her teammates, Lauren Shaner, 19, Lizzy Herzl, 18, and Amy Barczuk, 10. (CU Independent file/Robert R. Denton)
“We know how hard [our team has] worked,” acting head coach Chris Gnehm said in a news release. “It was a relief for them to finally get that validation for their work.”
California pounded on CU’s door right away and continued to play threatening offense throughout the first half. Millar made four saves on 10 shots and six corner-kicks.
“Kayla [Millar] played an unbelievable game,” Gnehm said. “She had to make a number of saves. She just stepped up when the team needed her most and had a great game.”
Cal outplayed the Buffs in the first half, but the Buffs went into the final 45 minutes with increased intensity.
“I think the second half we came out knowing how hard we were working,” Millar said. “We were confident in our abilities.”
Despite not having any Pac-12 wins to their name, the Buffs went into Friday’s game with confidence.
“The team is awesome,” Gnehm said. “They have, at every turn, had the same mentality. Everything that comes their way, they’re ready. Whatever it is, they have the will to succeed. They’re a resilient group.”
The Buffs succeeded in the 62nd minute when sophomore Hayley Hughes made a goal.
“The ball was played over the top,” Gnehm said. “Hayley outran the defender, and that’s the reason we put her up top today. She got in and scored a great goal.”
Speed in the final third of the field has been something the Buffs have lacked this season, but Hughes used her speed to tack on her third goal of the season, her first since the Colorado Cup in August.
The Golden Bears were not going down easy, coming back at the Buffs with shot after shot, hitting the crossbar multiple times in the second half. But even with a total of 20 shots in the game, six on target and 11 corner kicks, it wasn’t enough to curtail the Buffs’ line of defense.
“I was pretty confident because our defense was playing great,” Millar said. “Our defense was stopping a lot of shots, too, before they even got to me.”
The Buffs celebrated their huge victory, giving California just its second loss in the Pac-12.
CU heads out west to face No. 1 Stanford at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 23.
(Quotations, statistics and other information from Sports Information Department)
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Joseph Wirth at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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