DENVER – After falling behind a goal in the 21st minute, the University of Colorado soccer team quickly responded, as Anne Stuller’s hat trick and Olivia Pappalardo’s first collegiate goal gave the Buffs’ a 4-1 victory over the University of Tennessee Martin.
In their two games at the DU Invitational at CIBER Field at the University of Denver Soccer Stadium, the Buffaloes took a chart-topping 69 shots, including 38 on goal. The Buffs took 30 shots against the Skyhawks on Sunday afternoon, including an impressive 20 shots in the first half alone. After Friday’s record-breaking performance, Sunday’s game ties for the third most shots taken in a single game. The Skyhawks only got six shots past the solid CU defense, including three on goal.
CU keeper Annie Brunner has allowed just one goal this season, giving her an amazing 0.17 goals-against average through the first six games. She recorded two saves in the win, and is just two wins away from her season records from both 2010 and 2012, which both tie for sixth on the all-time season list. Brunner credits consistency and execution from the backfield and assistant coach Don Trentham’s focus on the details on the team’s defensive success.
“It’s just been nice having a lot of consistency,” Brunner said. “We’ve had Heather (Ward) and Lizzy (Herzl) in there who have just been solid. We haven’t had any injuries, so from the spring to now, having the same back four has been crucial. With Lizzy in there just demanding it and winning all the set balls, making huge clearances, making huge blocked shots. I give it up to those back four.”
Though their five-game shutout streak was put to bed, the Buffs extend their winning streak to a program best 6-0 record. The six game unbeaten streak ties for fifth best in program history. UT Martin falls to 1-4-1 after a tough weekend against Colorado competition.
Just 49 seconds into the game, the Buffs were already on the attack, with Brie Hooks shooting from the right, where Mariah Klenke grabbed the save. The Buffs got two more shots off before the Skyhawks took their first in the eighth minute, but the CU defense was ready for the block. CU would take four more shots over a six minute span, seemingly dominating the offense until UT Martin gained momentum off back-to-back Buffalo fouls.
With Colorado trying to clear the ball away from their net, Hooks fouled the opposition just behind the left corner of the box to set up a free kick. Hannah McGowen shot over the defense, with the ball sliding just right of Brunner to give the Skyhawks the 1-0 lead at the 20:24 mark.
Though the Skyhawks would hit a header high 17 seconds after their first goal, the Buffs wouldn’t allow another shot for the remainder of the first half. CU wasn’t content to play from behind for long, taking under three minutes to even the score and then under two more to take the lead.
“I think we were putting some good pressure on them, so I think the goal was a little against the run of play a bit,” CU head coach Danny Sanchez. “I think we just paid attention and kept doing what we were doing. We knew the chances would come, and fortunately for us, it kind of took the pressure of getting a couple right away. If you leave it too late, you keep yourself under pressure.”
After the UT Martin goal, Hooks took another shot from the right, but was blocked. Stuller got the rebound and was fouled in the box, setting up the Buffs’ first penalty kick of the season. Her PK went just left of center near the keeper. The ball got loose, and Stuller grabbed her own rebound, this time moving a bit right to shoot the ball in.
“I took the PK so I went up and tried to put it in the back of the net, and that’s not what happened, but thankfully it came right back to me and I volleyed it in,” Stuller said.
Just minutes after coming in as a substitution, Pappalardo was ready to make her presence felt. From the midfield, Madison Krauser sent the ball to the left side of the box, where Stuller got a touch before finding Pappalardo near the net to beat the goalie on the inside post. After being down a goal for just three minutes, the Buffs claimed the lead at 25:05.
“Madi passed it to Stu and I was just right on the top of the 18 by myself and I yelled for Stu to kind of leave it,” Pappalardo said. “She took a touch and then passed it right to me and I was wide open. I just one touched it to the goal because I think the goalie was thinking that Stu was going to try to shoot it, so she was in a bad spot. I just hit it in.”
Pappalardo has been a stellar midfielder, having two assists already this season to add to her two from last season, but had yet to score a goal. She said she’s happy to have her first goal in the books after being so close many times this season. She feels she’s finally calmed her nerves and hopes that more will come after this.
The Buffs would take nine more shots in the final 20 minutes of the first half, but would head into halftime with a 2-1 lead.
Both teams were on the attack early in the second half. The Skyhawks would take two early shots, but Stuller and the Buffs were hungry for more goals. In the 65th minute, Krauser passed into the box to Stuller who shot to the far post to help increase the lead to 3-1. Under three minutes later, the duo was at it again, this time with Stuller beating a defender one-on-one to score from 10 yards out, giving the Buffs a 4-1 lead that would hold through regulation.
The multiple goal performance was the sixth of Stuller’s career and her first hat trick. It was just the second hat trick in program history (Jen Thais versus Texas Tech in 2004) and just the fourth time a Buff scored three or more goals in a single game. Stuller is now one multi-goal game away from tying the program record set by both Nikki Marshall and Katie Griffin.
“I’m stoked,” Stuller said. “It’s my first hat trick. There were two great balls from Madi and the PK. It feels good. Brie’s scoring goals; we’re spreading out the offense this year. Madi’s lethal; everybody knows that. Liv got a great goal and she’s always dangerous. And I’m just trying to do my job too … It’s always in your mind when you have two goals because you’re one away and the hat trick is such a coveted thing in soccer. I just wanted to get the win and keep up the pressure.”
Krauser’s three assists were also a record-setter. She is only the second Buff to contribute three assists in a single game, joining Jen Thais (vs. Oklahoma in 2004) at the top of the record books.
The win also marked the 23rd time the Buffs have come back for a win after a 1-0 deficit.
Colorado continues to look impressive through their first six games, but they know they face stiff competition in the coming weeks. The Buffs near the end of the non-conference portion of the season next Sunday against in-state rival Denver. The Buffs will take on the nationally ranked team after having competed in two tournaments with the Pioneers this season.
“Denver’s a great team,” Sanchez said. “They’re a top 20 team. They’ve got a great coaching staff and a couple really, really special players. We know it’s going to be a big challenge, but we also know that at the end of the day, it’s a big game, but then next weekend we have two more big games. We want to play well. We want to continue to improve. We’re really excited. We really want to get a big crowd out to Prentup next Sunday at 1 p.m. It’s going to be a great game with a lot of local players and a lot of energy. Both teams only have one game on the weekend, so everyone will be fresh. I think it’s going to be a great game.”
Stand Shoulder to Shoulder with head coach Danny Sanchez and the CU soccer team as they take on the No. 20 ranked Denver Pioneers at 1 p.m. on Sunday, September 15. To celebrate this big game, the first 500 fans to the match will receive a FREE CU soccer T-shirt. Be sure to sit in the Buff Brigade cheering section to show your loud and spirited CU pride!