Los Angeles - The
University of Colorado soccer team faced a tough battle against the Pac-12
Conference's only undefeated team on Friday night at Marshall Field at Drake
Stadium. The Buffs fell 2-1 to the No. 3 UCLA Bruins.
Sophomore defender Bianca Jones scored the first goal of her career to put the Buffs on the board at the 85 minute mark. Jones got the ball from Quinn Krier, and struck the ball into the far post from 40 yards out.
"It was a free kick from distance," CU head coach Danny Sanchez said. "She overlapped Quinn (Krier) and banged one in ... It gave us momentum in last the five minutes, and in the last seconds, but we just didn't have enough to get over that hump. UCLA's a very, very talented team that plays good soccer. They have dangerous players who we defended well. They just have so many weapons. Any little thing can be hard to come back from."
UCLA's Lucretia Lee capitalized off a corner kick by Sarah Killion in the 42nd minute to take a 1-0 lead before the break. Killion worked again in the second half, this time off a penalty kick, for the game-winning goal.
"We defended very well," Sanchez said. "We gave up a soft goal on a corner kick in the first half, but we didn't hang our heads. On that penalty kick, the ball hopped up on Heather (Ward), and there's not much we could have done ... It just wasn't our night."
The Bruins add another to their six-game winning streak, and improve to 13-0-2 overall, 6-0-1 Pac-12. After putting up their second goal of the season against a top-five team, the Buffs drop to 6-7-3, 0-6-1.
Both offenses came out hot, with Annie Brunner and UCLA goalkeeper Katelyn Rowland both grabbing saves in the opening 12 minutes. The Buffs backline blocked a shot by the Bruins in the third minute and countered with a shot on goal by Anne Stuller six minutes later.
UCLA sent a couple more high, causing a close call for the Buffs in the 16th minute when the Bruins nearly recovered for a second shot. The Buffs claimed possession, causing a stir near the net at the 22:44 mark. Stuller hit one high that almost snuck below the crossbar. Then, Madison Krauser got the ball, but Rowland hopped on the save to end the Buffs' attack.
The Bruins picked up the pace in the latter half of the first 45. In the 35th minute, Colorado blocked Abby Dahlkemper. Chelsea Stewart recovered the ball, but Brunner got the stop. Both teams would prevent any more shots until the Bruins netted one in the 42nd minute. With 3:34 to go, Sarah Killion kicked a low corner that curved in front of the goal. Lucretia Lee got past the CU defense and put the Bruins up 1-0 going into the break.
The second half began much like the first, with shots on goal by both the Buffs and Bruins in the opening 10 minutes. Just 34 seconds in, UCLA hit one wide. Colorado came back on the attack two minutes after, with Shaye Marshall forcing a save. At the 49:26 mark, The Bruins got another good look at the net, but couldn't get one past Brunner. The Buffs countered again in the 53rd minute, with Krauser getting blocked.
UCLA's Taylor Smith dribbled down the pitch on the fast break, and Brunner punched away a huge save in the 58th minute. The Bruins kept the ball, but the Buffs blocked their next shot.
CU fought to gain possession, but the Bruins always seemed to be in the right place at the right time to keep the Buffs from getting too close to the net.
Brunner once again had major denials in the 69th minute, saving back-to-back shots by Ally Courtnall. Though CU's defense was going strong, the Bruins continued to dominate possession and force the issue. The Buffs got called for a handball in the penalty box, giving the Bruins their first penalty kick attempt of the season. Killion was a factor once more, netting the PK at 70:34 for a goal to match her earlier assist.
The Bruins got four more shots off in the next twelve minutes, but would never get another past the Buffs. Colorado looked refreshed in the final five minutes of the game, putting one on the board at the 85 minute mark. Quinn Krier set up Bianca Jones, who struck the ball from 40 yards out and netted it into the far corner.
The Buffs had a brief opportunity to hit an equalizer in the closing minute, when UCLA's Kylie McCarthy received a yellow card at 89:33. With 26 seconds remaining, Krier took the free kick that was close, but not close enough, ending the game at a 2-1 Bruin victory.
"The whole second half we were playing OK," Sanchez said. "We didn't hang our heads, and we kept battling. We made it interesting in the final seconds, but it wasn't enough. I give a lot of credit to the players; they worked hard and didn't give up."
The Buffs continue their road trip against Southern California on Sunday at 2 p.m. MT.
"We've been down this road before," Sanchez said. "When we've competed, but didn't get anything out of it, We regroup and get back to training. USC is a very talented team. Don't be fooled by their record. They beat Utah tonight, and they have that win against Washington. They've been on the road for a while, and now they're back at their place. We have no room for error, but I think we've shown we can play with anybody. We just haven't been getting the results. If we play with the same passion and confidence that we did tonight, I think we can do something."