GREELEY, Colo. - The University of Colorado knows no defeat against Northern Colorado. The Buffs defeated the Bears 3-0 Friday night in the season opener at the Colorado Cup. CU has now shut out UNC in all six of the team's meetings.
The Buffs got their season off to a hot start with freshmen making their Colorado debut, including starts from Courtney Dudley and Madison Krauser, and veteran players coming up big. It was also a big night for former Fairview High School players. Boulder natives Anne Stuller and Nikola Machalek contributed all three of the Buffs' goals in the win.
"It was a great game for us," Stuller said. "The game always is fast at first, and we had to slow it down. Thankfully we were able to put two goals in the first half, and Nikki hit a brilliant ball for the third goal in the second half just to put it away. Overall it was a pretty good game for us finishing wise."
Stuller answered head coach Danny Sanchez's offensive wishes for the season by putting one in the net at the 5:03 mark. Stuller, assisted by a header from junior Hayley Hughes, shot down the UNC defense to get the Buffs on the board.
Though Colorado scored first, the Bears never let down their offensive pressure. CU captain Amy Barczuk stood her ground in the backfield, helping both new and experienced defenders. Annie Brunner also had a busy first half, with seven shots coming her way.
The Buffs played very physically, pressing the Bears at both ends of the pitch. The Buffs shot the ball five times in the half, refuting the tag-team of 2011 All-Big Sky first team and honorable mention selections Alexsys Tamayo and Brittany Dunn.
In the 30th minute, Stuller let her presence be felt again as she netted one off what Sanchez described as a "world-class strike" of a free kick to put the Buffs up 2-0.
The Bears had more Buffs to worry about than just Stuller. Freshman Emily Paxton forced UNC goalie Natalie D'Adamio to work for her second save of the half in the final minutes before the break.
The closing 45 minutes were just as aggressive as the first, but the Bears still couldn't reach the back of the net. The Buffs barred down on UNC, with Hughes taking a two-on-one shot that went just wide.
The Bears answered with a big shot with 33 minutes remaining, but Brunner made a swift dive for the catch, adding to her three saves on the night.
"We're really pleased with how we defended," Sanchez said. "Annie Brunner controlled the box and really limited their opportunities, so overall it was a good performance for the first game of the season."
Both teams did have opportunities to score, with big saves happening in both nets. Barczuk slammed it down the field to an open Paxton, who worked on her passing game with Erin Bricker before D'Adamio shut her down once more.
In the 71st minute, freshmen connected to shut the game away. Paxton found Machalek who pushed her way to the net from the right side to give the Buffs the decisive 3-0 lead.
"It feels awesome," Machalek said of her first collegiate goal. "I couldn't have asked for more."
The Buffs put the match away, with Machalek's goal being the last, despite the Bears continuing to aggravate the defense. With three minutes remaining, the Bears hit one of their most intense shots of the night, but the ball went high, and UNC remained scoreless against the Buffs for the sixth consecutive time.
"We learned a lot from ourselves having to chase this game quite a bit with UNC," coach Sanchez said. "We have Colorado College on Sunday at their place with the Colorado Cup up for grabs for the winner. We know there's a lot to play for on Sunday."
The Buffs hope to take home the Colorado Cup trophy for the second time, but must make it past CC in their meeting on Sunday, Aug. 19 at 4 p.m. in Colorado Springs. The Tigers beat Denver 1-0 in the Cup opener.