The University of Colorado soccer team, like the many college teams competing right now, are no strangers to rescheduling. In a year dominated by the challenges of playing with COVID-19, the Buffs game against the University of Northern Colorado was changed for a different reason: the weather. With Boulder expecting snow and a high of just 10 degrees this Saturday, the game against the Bears was moved to Thursday afternoon.
CU didn’t entirely escape the cold though, as the temperature remained in the 20’s throughout the game. Regardless of the weather, the Buffs shook off a slow start and erupted for three second half goals on their way to a 3-0 win over Northern Colorado. With the win, Colorado stands at a 2-0 to begin the year.
Head coach Danny Sanchez gave props to the Bears postgame.
“Northern Colorado is a very good team; they’re favorites in the Big Sky, and we knew it would be a game like this and we’re glad to get the result,” Sanchez said.
Despite a few good offensive looks in the first half, CU didn’t really crank things up offensively until the the final 45 minutes. At the 57-minute mark it looked like Colorado might have finally broke through with a shot from senior transfer Shanade Hopcroft, however, the goal was waived off due to a handball.
The Buffs continued to apply heavy offensive pressure, until in the 68 minute when junior midfielder Kayleigh Webb smacked a header towards the goal off of freshman midfielder Jenny Beyer’s corner kick. Webb’s header was blocked by the Northern Colorado goalkeeper Morgan Bury, but Bury wasn’t able to secure the ball. The loose ball then found the left foot of junior defender Hannah Sharts who put it in the goal to make the game 1-0. Sharts’ goal ended the team’s 164-minute stretch without a goal to start the season.
Ten minutes later CU tacked on another goal, this time from freshman midfielder Shyra James. On a long pass from just behind midfield, fellow freshman Lawson Willis found James down field one on one with a Bears defender. Moving to her left, James, while stumbling to the ground due to a push by the defender, managed to stay up just along enough to get a shot off. The ball placement to the low far right corner of the net took Bury by surprise. Colorado took a 2-0 lead on James’ first goal of her CU career.
Sanchez talked following the victory about the difference in the second half that culminated in three Colorado goals.
“I thought the second half especially, (James) did a better job of getting into better shooting range,” Sanchez said. “In the first half I think she was settling for shots from twenty, twenty-five yards, and obviously she had two really good chances in the box today and scored a very good goal.”
Northern Colorado’s defense hardly had time to breathe before the Buffs scored a final time at the 80-minute mark. Once again James was in the center of the play. Dribbling into the box, James lightly tapped the ball out to junior midfielder Jesse Loren who rocketed the ball high into the back of the goal. Loren gave credit to James postgame when discussing the play.
“I called for the ball and she (James) laid it off perfectly so I could get it first time,” Loren said. “I’m just thinking, ‘Just get over the ball and put it on the frame,’ so that’s what I did. I was pretty happy about it.”
Sanchez commended the players for the offensive surge in the final 45 minutes.
“The second half, I want to give credit to the players because the movement was better, we created a lot of good chances and scored three pretty good goals,” Sanchez said. “I’m pleased with that, but a lot of work to do as we head towards conference play.”
Following two consecutive shutouts for the Buffs to start the season, they’ll look to continue their success on the defensive end wrapping up non-conference and heading into Pac-12 play. After playing earlier than scheduled this week, Colorado will have to wait another nine days for their next opponent. CU will try to remain unbeaten when they host another Big Sky team in Weber State next Saturday at noon.
Contact CU Independent staff writer Matthew Lenneman at email@example.com.
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