SEATTLE – After a slow start at the Husky Soccer Complex, senior Anne Stuller gave the University of Colorado soccer team the upper-hand over Washington, netting the game-winner in the sixth minute of overtime.
The Pac-12 Conference leader in shots and corner kicks, the Buffs have had to fight against tough defensive pressure in their first true road trip of the season. Though they entered the game averaging 9.31 first half shots, the Huskies limited the Buffs to just one shot in the opening 45 minutes, marking just the fourth time this season the Buffs have taken fewer than five shots in the first half.
“Washington is great defensively and they have a very good goalkeeper,” CU head coach Danny Sanchez said. “There just wasn’t a lot of chances to be had either way for us. I felt that defensively, we were really tight and we limited their opportunities. We knew that there wouldn’t be a lot of chances to be had, but fortunately for us, the one good chance we had, we took care of.”
With their first road victory of the season, Colorado improves to 11-3 overall, 3-2 Pac-12. The Buffs are now a perfect 2-0 in overtime matches in 2013. Despite taking only one shot in the first half, CU outshot UW 15-11, including a six to two differential on goal. Continuing to shine in the net, Annie Brunner has become just the third CU keeper to record at least 11 wins in a single season. The shutout was Brunner’s eighth of the season, topping her 2012 total of 7.1.
Previously undefeated in Pac-12 play, with wins over USC and Utah and a double-overtime tie against then No. 3 UCLA, Washington slips to 6-6-2, 2-1-2 Pac-12. Redshirt junior Kate Bennett led the Huskies with five shots, taking both of the team’s shots on goal.
“It was a hard fought Pac-12 match,” Sanchez said. “Washington’s on a great roll. They’re tough to score on. They hadn’t given up a goal in Pac-12 play, so we knew it’d take something special. Anne Stuller did something special to win it for us.”
The Buffs got an opportunity in the opening 15 minutes when Madison Krauser, who led the Buffs with six shots, got the ball deep in Washington territory. From the 18 yard line, defensive pressure forced her to make a move, but she couldn’t get enough power on the kick to take a shot. Washington was quick to respond, causing commotion near the Buffs’ net, but CU finally got a good clearance to send the ball back in the other direction.
It wasn’t until the 27th minute that the Huskies were able to take the first shot of the game. A cross found Bennett at the net, but her shot was blocked, and Brunner came out to meet it. Less than four minutes later, UW was back on the attack, but this time Bennett sent the ball wide from close range. The Huskies continued to press the net. Brooke Rice looked strong on the defensive side of the ball, blocking any looks at the net. Though UW got a corner kick, the shot went long and helped the Buffs take over on the offense.
CU got its best chance of the half in the 36th minute. From the middle of the box, Darcy Jerman crossed left to Krauser, who was stopped by her defender, setting up a corner kick. Alex Huynh got her head on the ball, but the Buffs’ sole shot of the half was blocked. The Buffs retained possession, but a CU foul finally allowed UW to get the ball.
In the final five minutes, Washington caused several close calls for the Buffs. Getting the ball from the right corner of the box, Jaclyn Softli got within 12 yards, but her header was blocked by a CU defender. Though the Buffs got back deep into UW territory, a final throw in got away from them, allowing the Huskies to rush to the Buffs’ net. Brunner came out of the net in anticipation, leaving an empty net for Softli. Softli slammed the ball just left of the post, keeping the game scoreless at the break.
After taking just one shot in the first 45 minutes, the Buffs opened the second half on an offensive stride, with Krauser taking two shots in the first nine minutes. The Buffs continued to press the net and dictate the tempo, getting another opportunity off back-to-back shots by Krauser and Stuller.
Washington couldn’t regroup on the offense until the 69th minute, with Bennett shooting at the keeper. Bennett was on it again at 70:20, this time getting blocked. Following a corner kick, the Huskies sent another shot wide. Unwilling to remain in a defensive fight, the Buffs attacked the UW net. Tori Cooper got to the net and shot from close range, striking at Megan Kufeld, who had come out of the net.
The Huskies responded with a great chance of their own in the 77th minute. Lindsay Elston got to the net, but Brunner punched the ball away, and the Huskies were unable to convert on the following corner kick.
The Buffs continued to dominate in the final 10 minutes of regulation. Bianca Jones sent a deep ball to the net, where several Buffs got touches, even forcing Kufeld out of the net for a moment, but couldn’t find a shot. Following a corner kick, Krauser took the ball behind the box, forcing a shot that got blocked. She found the rebound and hit the ball just high.
Though the Huskies would get another chance, forcing Brunner to grab another save, it was the Buffs who continued to shine offensively in the closing minutes, with Stuller and Jerman each taking two shots in the final five minutes of regulation.
CU didn’t slow down in just their second overtime match of the season, quickly taking over on the offense. In the first minute, Krauser got an open look, but her shot went just over the crossbar. The Huskies were able to respond with a shot of their own in the 95th minute, but their attack wouldn’t last long.
A Washington foul just outside the box helped set up the Buffs’ game-winner. From 22 yards out, Stuller booted a free kick to the near post to give the Buffs the 1-0 victory.
“She was from a bit of a wide angle, and she just had a great strike,” Sanchez said. “… We were starting to pressure and get the ball into deeper spots. I think the game-winning goal was a by-product of that.”
With eight goals this season, Stuller matches her total from last season, which ranks in the top eight for a single season at CU. Her 22 total points this season ties for the most by a CU senior.
The Buffs conclude their three game road trip in Berkeley, Calif. (the site of their first ever Pac-12 Conference win). CU takes on No. 8 California at 1:30 p.m. MT on Friday, Oct. 18 before returning to Prentup Field for their final two home games of the season.
“I told the team after the match, this is the Pac-12, and after the game on Friday, we had to bounce back,” Sanchez said. “Nobody’s feeling sorry for anybody and the games are going to be like this. We have to continue the momentum and play with confidence. They’re a top 10, top 15 team with one loss … We know the challenge of being on the road. Hopefully we’re a little more comfortable with it and we’ll come out and play.”