Boulder - The University of Colorado soccer team showcased the strength of its bench in Sunday's 2-0 win against the Air Force Falcons. The Buffs got their fifth shutout of the season to end non-conference play with a stellar 6-1-2 record.
It is only the fifth time in program history that CU has begun the season with at least six wins, with the most recent being a 7-1-1 start in 2008.
The Buffs faced tough competition against the Falcons, who are off to their best start since 1995. After the loss, Air Force drops to 4-2-3.
Darcy Jerman scored her first goal of the season in the 60th minute, and Hayley Hughes added the insurance in the final 10 minutes.
Air Force had an early offensive presence, making the Buffs run the length of the pitch. Brunner grabbed her only first half save in the first ten minutes.
From there, the Buffs amped up their offensive energy and held strong on the defense. In the 19th minute, Krauser found her way to the box, pressing the goalie and almost having the ball stolen by a defender. She regained possession and sent one close to the crossbar, forcing Kelly Stambaugh to reach for the save.
A minute later, Olivia Pappalardo crossed the ball to Hayley Hughes who sent it wide.
Keeping up the pressure, Krauser once again got a look at the net, shooting at almost the same spot she had earlier, sending the ball just high.
Air Force's Kim Koeppen was yellow carded at the 28:47 mark, giving the Buffs another opportunity. Stuller took the lead in the set piece, hitting the ball high with a lot of heat.
The Buffs looked good at both ends of the field, outshooting the Falcons eight to three in the first half, but neither team was able to net one. The teams, who combined for 10 shutouts coming into this game, both went into the break scoreless.
CU took time to get back into a groove in the second causing a need for some regrouping on the defense. Ten minutes into the second, Air Force sophomore Felicia Sturgeon got one on the goal, but Brunner picked up another save, totaling four in the game.
The Buffs got some great looks, spurring their offense to two second half goals. Shaye Marshall and Anne Stuller both came close, but Darcy Jerman would step up big for the Buffs in the 60th minute.
Quinn Krier hit her corner kick beyond the far post, connecting with Jerman who headed it into the net.
"It was a great ball from Quinn," Jerman said. "It was a corner kick. I think that I just had good timing and good placement. I am just really excited because it was my first goal of the season ... We have been working on balls high in the air and training a lot especially on corner kicks to get them in and lined up for the attacks."
Air Force tried to respond, with Stephanie Patterson and Leah Bratt both taking shots, but Brunner grabbed the easy saves.
With 10:30 remaining, Krauser sent one high, but gave the Buffs some necessary momentum.
At the 80:19 mark, the Buffs offense reached the net again. CU took a close shot, and with the goalie still down, Hughes broke away to shoot one in, assisted by Stuller.
"I wanted it so bad," Hughes said. "I am a forward and I know I need to score. I only had one goal on the season, so I was thirsty for more. It was a chance to put the ball away and I'm glad I did."
Sunday's win elevated CU to two more wins this season than in 2011, heading into conference play with a 6-1-2 record. The Buffs travel to Eugene, Ore. to take on the Ducks on Friday, Sept. 21 at 5 p.m. (MT).
"We still have a lot to prove," head coach Danny Sanchez said. "I'm not going to pretend we're not happy with where we are at. Six wins of the last nine games, we have been really pleased. We know though we will be judged in the big picture in how we do in conference play. We head to Oregon's turf will be a good test for us. We have a similar record. These next 11 games we will be the underdog."