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It has been over three months since Colorado officially joined the Pac-12 and three major programs are shooting blanks in the conference win column.
Midway through autumn and the football teams rebuilding project is in need of a demolition. Volleyball has lost all 33 sets in its new conference. Not to be outdone in lousiness, the women’s soccer team is suffering a long losing streak of its own.
Most times when editing sports pieces I feel like I’m the head of the obituary section, where depressing news is as certain as mortality.
This isn’t one of those articles where I say the Buffs will get ‘em next time or the teams are trying their best. Leave the participation medals at home and the orange slices in the cooler because sympathy is running low.
Here is a run-through of the wounded fall sports, halfway into their inaugural Pac-12 season:
Football (1-6, 0-3)
A lot of talk surrounded CU football, which entered the season with a new coaching staff and rejuvenated outlook. Since that rackety preseason, the team has taken a punch in the mouth from just about everybody.
If the recent past is a scary thought, then hide your head, because it might be a long time before this program gets on a winning track when pared against surging Pac-12 competition.
Programs like Washington, Stanford, and Oregon are only getting better. USC won’t be down for long after it finishes up life on probation. CU faces a serious threat of becoming the permanent conference doormat. An Oct. 1 loss to Washington State, who previously held that title, only reaffirms the nightmares.
A pile of losses is clearly starting to get to head coach Jon Embree, whose frustration mounts after each defeat.
“One of the things I told the team when I first got hired is, ‘What we are going to ask from you is going to be hard, but it will be worth it,’” Embree said at his weekly luncheon after a 52-24 loss to Washington. “I have to remember that that is for me too, not just the team.”
The road loss counter has ticked its way up to 21 straight. Even less encouraging is how they lost those games. Of the true road games thus far (discounting a trip to Invesco Field in Denver), the Buffs lost by an average of 26 points.
Volleyball (5-14, 0-11)
No Buffs team has faced tougher competition than the volleyball team. Coach Liz Kritza and her ladies already faced five different Pac-12 teams that were ranked in the top-5 when they played.
Currently the conference holds all but two of the top seven spots in the AVCA Coaches Poll.
Following eleven straight losses in conference play, volleyball looks overmatched in its new home. Though they’ve been close on numerous occasions, they have yet to win a single set.
“There’s no real way to describe it for us right now,” Kritza said during the post-game interview after the loss to Arizona State. “The difference between just being close; it’s simply not enough. Earlier in the season we can take some positives in when we’re closing gaps and playing teams close, but it’s not enough — not anymore.”
Kritza has exhausted any excuses over her team’s underwhelming play. Eleven matches remain on the schedule, as they play every Pac-12 team for a second go-around.
Now begins the time to think small, even against bigger and better opponents. Take it set by set.
Women’s Soccer (3-9-2, 0-5-1)
Bill Hempen’s soccer team is experiencing an identity crisis. It hasn’t seen itself win in seven games and the lineup is undergoing steady shuffling.
A string of four goals in six Pac-12 games isn’t exactly helping confidence either. The team has more yellow cards than goals during the losing streak.
Highlighting their first Pac-12 campaign was a 2-2 tie against Arizona, who stands at a measly 1-11-2.
Senior Kate Russell, who scored the lone goal in the most recent loss (a 3-1 defeat to Oregon), has three goals and one assist on the season.
“It is discouraging when we’re missing those opportunities to come out on top,” Russell said in a post-game interview after the loss to Oregon. “Everyone on the team is working hard, doing the best we can. Every game we’re right there in it. Everyone’s just working hard, and you can’t be mad at that.”
Now for the bad news; the toughest competitors still remain. Dates with No. 1 Stanford and No. 7 UCLA linger at the end of the month. Faith in the faltering soccer team, like numerous other fall programs, is becoming harder to keep.
Contact CU Independent Sports Editor Michael Kurmholtz at Michael.email@example.com.