DENVER – The record-breaking 39th shot was the decisive one as the University of Colorado soccer team defeated Alabama 1-0 in overtime at the DU Invitational at CIBER Field at the University of Denver Soccer Stadium.
In the 85th minute, the Buffaloes broke the single-game program record with their 33rd shot of the game. The previous record of 32 dates all the way back to the program’s first season, a 2-1 victory over LSU in 1996. The last time the Buffs took at least 25 shots was in a 2-1 win over Cincinnati in last season’s DU Invitational. Krauser, who hit the record-breaking shot, would strike again with the 36th shot in the 89th minute, but the ball couldn’t find the back of the net, sending the game to overtime.
The Buffs would have two more close calls in the first six minutes of overtime, but it wasn’t until the 97th minute that Colorado would put the game away once and for all. Madison Krauser was deep in the midfield when she crossed to Brie Hooks, who took a close-range shot from five yards out. With Alabama keeper Emily Rusk edging out of goal to meet her, the ball hit the right post, seeming to keep Alabama out of danger once again, but the ball got some spin and reached the back of the net.
“The game was starting to get stretched,” CU head coach Danny Sanchez said. “I think both teams were getting tired, because both teams were attacking. Alabama was attacking the whole game, just as we were. Madi got the ball, and she talked about ‘Hey let’s see if we can find a switch.’ She put a great ball in behind, and Brie just got in behind an outside back and tucked it past the keeper. It was a very good goal. Nothing cheap about it, for sure.”
The 39 shots wasn’t the only record broken in the game. The Buffs are now a program best 5-0 (while Alabama falls to 1-3), and have shut out a record five straight opponents to begin the season. Three players also tied single game records in Friday’s win. With seven shots apiece, Hooks and Darcy Jerman both tie 17th on the all-time list. Stuller adds her name for the fourth time (after last week’s seven shot performance against Saint Mary’s College), tying for sixth with a game-high eight shots.
Hooks has already scored six goals in her freshman season, tying fourth place on the CU freshman list. Her 12 points ties for sixth.
CU keeper Annie Brunner faced nine shots and grabbed three saves in the game. With the shutout, she matches her 2010 total of five, tying for seventh all-time on the season list. She also holds sole possession of second in the career record books with 19.1 total shutouts. She extends her perfect 0.00 goals-against average through five games.
“We know that our keepers are going to make great saves each game,” defender Lizzy Herzl said. “We can count on them back there. Annie’s back there making these amazing saves. They’re going to get a chance or two, but we’ve got a solid keeper back there.”
The Buffs got more than a chance or two, with 20 of their 39 shots going on goal, forcing 19 saves from Rusk. Sanchez applauded Rusk for not allowing rebounds and handling corners. While he felt his players settled for some long shots, he said that soccer teams often need a lot of opportunities to get that one decisive goal.
“I feel we played well,” Sanchez said. “We created a lot of opportunities on goal. Sometimes when you create a lot, a lot of credit goes to the keeper. I thought she was very good today. On the flip side, I think defensively, they have some very good, creative players. They created some good chances, and we faced the most defensive pressure I think we’ve had all season. I think our back four – Hayley (Hughes), Lizzy (Herzl), Bianca (Jones) and Heather (Ward) were solid. We created a lot of opportunities. We got the goal we needed, which is great, but big picture, I’m just really pleased that we created all these opportunities, and hopefully as we continue to work, we can get a higher strike ratio than we had tonight.”
The teams took a bit of time to get into the swing of things, but the Buffs quickly shook off their early jitters.
In the fifth minute, Anne Stuller nearly crept one past Alabama, putting pressure on the keeper, getting the ball off and narrowly avoiding a shot to the open right corner of the net.
CU went into attack mode, taking nine shots in a 14 minute span, while not allowing a single shot by Alabama until the 22nd minute of the game. Krauser, Hooks, Jerman, Stuller and Hayley Hughes all got at least one shot off before Alabama even reached the net.
With 17 minutes remaining in the half, Alabama took a free kick from the right that went to the left side of the keeper’s box, where Laura Lee Smith hit a close ball near the post, but Brunner was ready for the save. About one minute later, Ward prevented another Bama shot with a strong block.
CU would go on another spree, taking six more shots before allowing another by Alabama. Jerman shot one right at the keeper, and just 20 seconds later, Hooks rushed from the midfield to force Rusk to slide for the save. The close call at the left bottom corner of the net set up a corner, but the Buffs couldn’t convert.
Both teams continued playing physically, with a combined 15 fouls, including nine in the first half, but neither could get a good look on goal before halftime.
The second half began aggressively, with two players from each team taking shots in the first six minutes. The Buffs would get three opportunities off corner kicks in just over a four minute span, but the Tide defense prevented any shots.
The Buffs had a couple close calls in a five second span, with back-to-back Bama shots. In the 62nd minute, Kendall Khanna hit the post and Merel Van Dongen was ready for the rebound, forcing a Brunner save. CU responded with four consecutive shots, all by newcomers.
CU had a couple more opportunities in regulation. With 11 minutes remaining, from the left, Stuller crossed to Hooks at the right corner. Hooks was faced with one defender, and crossed back to Stuller at the net who headed the ball high. The Buffs took six more consecutive shots before the final minute. That’s when they got the ball into play from midfield, passed all the way to the left side of the goal, where Krauser took a strong shot, making Rusk jump for the save and sending the game into overtime.
Possession went back and forth as overtime began. In the sixth minute, Stuller would force another save and set up another corner kick. Herzl got her head to the ball off the corner, but sent the ball just wide. Just 47 seconds later, in the 97th minute, the Buffs would finally wear out the Alabama defense, with Hooks rushing the ball into the net from close range off a ricochet off the left post.
“It was a perfect ball by Madi, right over the defense like we’ve been practicing,” Hooks said. “I hoped to get a toe on it, and luckily it nicked the post and went in.”
After 97 minutes and 39 shots, the Buffs clinched the win behind another Hooks goal and great teamwork, especially in the back field.
“It was a well fought game,” Hooks said. “We all had to work together. I think the goal was a result of everyone working the whole game. It was a really well played game all the way through. It helped everyone working together and tiring out the defense so that we can get that last goal.”
The Buffs are back in action on Sunday against UT Martin. CU concludes the DU Invitational at 11 a.m. at CIBER Field at the University of Denver Soccer Stadium.