Playing as the host of a tournament doesn’t always guarantee success. Just ask the CU women’s soccer team.
The Buffs lost their first game in the Omni Hotels’ Colorado Soccer Classic 3-1 to the Purdue Boilermakers Friday, leaving the Buffs’ record at 3-4 on the season.
“I thought we looked good in the beginning,” said junior midfielder Kate Russell. “As time went on, they didn’t let down, and we did take our foot off the gas pedal.”
CU opened the game strong, breaking the deadlock in just the seventh minute. Senior forward Amanda Foulk got on the end of a corner kick and put the Buffs ahead.
But after the goal, the team seemed to fall flat.
“I think we sat back a little and thought we were matching their level,” Foulk said. “Then 10 minutes later, they were working a lot harder than we were.”
Purdue’s hard work paid off in the 25th minute. Junior midfielder Kellie Phillips played in a corner, and CU’s freshman goalkeeper Annie Brunner failed to clear it. The ball fell to Purdue junior forward Katie Leinert, who put the ball in the back of the net.
Only two minutes later, Phillips put Purdue ahead on an unassisted goal.
CU’s head coach, Bill Hempen, said he looked at Purdue’s physicality as one of the reasons for his team’s troubles.
“They put so much pressure on us immediately,” Hempen said. “We had [the ball] a little bit, but just not enough.”
Purdue held on to a 2-1 lead into halftime.
CU came out strong to start the second half but couldn’t get a reward for their good play. Purdue increased their lead in the 82nd minute as they were allowed to break down the wing and cross a ball that found its way to senior defender Liz Secue, who put away the easy chance.
Coach Hempen said he was not happy with his team’s mental mistakes.
“We need to figure out what we want to be,” he said. “Are we going to be a .500 team, or are we going to fold under the pressure?”
CU’s biggest problem throughout the day was their lack of physicality. Many times throughout the game, they were easily pushed off balls or were forced to make bad passes.
Hempen knows this needs to change, especially when their next opponent, 12th ranked UCLA, racked up 13 fouls against University of Denver.
“[The players] have to get an inner determination that says, ‘You’re not going to beat me,’” he said. “We give good effort, but not enough effort.”
The players are looking to play strong for an entire game, not just small parts.
“If we can’t play for 90 minutes, we’re not going to win a lot of games,” Foulk said. “We gave a valiant effort at the end, but we need that all game long.”
CU plays their second game in the tournament on Sept. 19 against UCLA, with kickoff scheduled for 1:30 p.m. at Prentup Field.
Contact CU Independent Soccer Reporter Mark McNeillie at Mark.firstname.lastname@example.org.