After the Colorado Buffaloes soccer team’s 1-0 win over the No. 11 Oklahoma State Cowgirls on Saturday at Prentup Field, the Buffs are on top of the Big 12 conference standings, at least until Sept. 25 when the conference schedule really begins.
“We knew that we wanted to come out hard and get our first Big 12 win,” said CU senior goalkeeper Kara Linder. “We had to step it up in the second half, but I think we had a good week of training for us to be able to do that.”
After playing a scoreless game in the first half, Colorado sophomore Kelly Butler finally broke the tie in the 63rd minute after a cross pass by teammate Ally Goodman deflected off OSU goalkeeper Adrianna Franch, leaving Butler with a wide open net to fire in what would be the game-winner.
CU head coach Bill Hempen said after the game that it was a good sign that his team didn’t give up on the play.
“Too often a ball bounces in the clear and the crowd is like, ‘Where are you?’ and the kids are running backwards,” Hempen said. “Kelly Butler just stayed with it, and it was a fortuitous bounce and we stuck in an empty net. It is probably one of the harder goals to score because there it is and all you have to do is put it there, and she did.”
Butler’s goal energized the Buffs (1-0, 1-0 Big 12) as the team’s defense stuffed the few good opportunities the Cowgirls (0-1, 0-1 Big 12) had as time was running out to give the Buffs their first regular season win of 2009.
Last season, the Buffs and Cowgirls went into overtime twice including the Big 12 championship semifinals, which CU won on penalty kicks. This game seemed destined to go into overtime as well with the game’s slow pace early.
“I think even with our exhibition games last weekend that we started off a little slow,” Butler said. “But I think it’s coming together and that’s a really good start for our first game, especially in Big 12 play too.”
Linder said that playing a Big 12 foe early would help the Buffs in the long run with the conference having so many talented players.
“The Big 12 is really physical and there is a lot of dominate players in the Big 12,” Linder said. “To be able to compete against them right away will give us an advantage going into other teams.”
In the 73rd minute, CU fans held their breath as senior forward and preseason All-American Nikki Marshall went down with an injury.
Marshall didn’t return to the game, and it was determined that she had cramps in the hot 85 degree sun. However, she will be ready to go this weekend for the DU Soccer Classic.
It won’t get any easier for the Buffs this weekend as they take on No. 17 Illinois on Friday and St. Mary’s on Sunday down the road at the University of Denver.
CU will once again take on another ranked opponent and it is one that Hempen has never seen in his eight prior seasons at Colorado. He guesses that they’re not too bad.
“We’ve never played them ever at any level,” Hempen said. “They’re another top 25 team, so we got to believe that they’re going to be good.”
Contact CU Independent Sports Editor Ron Knabenbauer at Ronald.email@example.com.