QUICKLY: The University of Colorado soccer team has impressed through six games, earning the only perfect record in the Pac-12 Conference and shutting out a conference-best five teams. The Buffaloes face stiff competition against in-state rival No. 16 Denver. Both teams are off to program best 6-0 starts but something’s got to give in their meeting at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 15 at Prentup Field.
COLORADO VS. DENVER: The Buffs hold a narrow 8-7-1 lead over the Pioneers dating back to 1997. The Buffs have lost three straight, including a 4-1 defeat at last season’s DU Invitational, marking CU’s first loss of the season and putting an end to their record-breaking five game unbeaten streak to begin the season. Colorado’s last win was a 1-0 double overtime victory at Prentup in 2009. Their only other overtime match resulted in a 2-2 tie in 2005. The only other time DU has been ranked when facing CU was in 2003, when the Buffs shut out the No. 9 Pioneers 3-0 in Denver.
SCOUTING THE PIONEERS: Senior Kristen Hamilton leads the Pioneers with four goals and four assists off a team-high 27 shots. Close behind is fellow senior Nicholette Digiacomo, who hit the game-winner against UT Martin last Friday, with four goals and 1 assist. The Pioneers are successfully spreading the offense, with seven players netting goals and 10 contributing assists (four have done both). DU has scored 13 goals, while allowing three. They have also taken 105 shots while only allowing 65. Lead keeper freshman Cassidy Rey has grabbed 31 saves and has led the team to three shutouts, and contributed to one more.
SHOULDER TO SHOULDER: Stand Shoulder to Shoulder with head coach Danny Sanchez and the CU soccer team as they take on the Denver Pioneers. 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!
LAST WEEK: The Buffs extended their record-breaking winning streak to six to begin the 2013 season behind wins over Alabama and UT Martin at the DU Invitational. On Friday, the Buffs faced their first overtime battle, but came out victorious over the Crimson Tide as the Buffs took a record-breaking 39 shots and Brie Hooks scored off a Madison Krauser assist in the 97th minute. Though falling behind one goal on Sunday (the only goal the Buffs have allowed this season), the Buffs blasted the UT Martin Skyhawks in the remainder of the game, winning 4-1. Anne Stuller recorded her first hat trick and added an assist to Olivia Pappalardo’s first collegiate goal. Krauser had three assists in the win.
COLORADO NATIVES: The Buffs and Pioneers have a combined 21 in-state players on their rosters. These student-athletes hail from 13 cities and 15 high schools. Golden, Littleton and Boulder are the most common cities, with three players coming from each. Four players come from Boulder’s Fairview High School, while three come from Smoky Hill in Aurora. Boulder’s own said she looks forward to the in-state rivalry game every season and is excited to play against a team that features many of her close friends.
NSCAA RANKINGS: The Pioneers are ranked No. 16 in this week’s NSCAA/Continental Tire Women’s Soccer Poll. For the second straight week, the surging Buffs received votes, nearly doubling their vote count from last week’s poll. CU’s fellow Pac-12 competitors are still making a strong impression, with Stanford ranked No. 3, UCLA ranked No. 5. California and USC round out the top 20, at No. 14 and 18, respectively. Arizona State and Washington State also both received votes.
LIVE ACTION: Never miss a minute! Watch the Buffs’ home games all season long at http://buffs.me/buffslive and check out This Week in Colorado Soccer at http://ow.ly/oN1a2.
RECORD START: Both Colorado and Denver are off to program best 6-0 starts. The Buffs have toppled the records they set last season by remaining undefeated through six games and shutting out their first five opponents to begin the season. Last year the Buffs broke records by remaining undefeated through five games (3-0-2) and shutting out their first three opponents. The Buffs have already tied or topped their win record from five seasons in the 17 year program history. Their six game unbeaten streak also ties for the fifth longest streak in program history. A streak of six wins or longer has only happened five other times. This is also just the seventh time in program history that the Buffs have won at least six non-conference bouts.
BEST STARTS AT COLORADO:
2003 - The Buffs lost their opening game to t-No. 2 Portland 1-0 (only one of four losses all season), but then went on an 11 game win streak and a 15 game unbeaten streak.
2004 - After starting the season 1-1-1, the Buffs continued to a 7-1-1 start on their way to a 15-6-2 overall record.
2006 - CU had a draw in its first game and suffered a loss in its fourth, but started the season with a 6-1-1 record.
2008 - The Buffs began 0-1-1 on their way to an 8-1-2 start that included an eight game win streak and a nine game unbeaten streak.
2012 - The Buffs began on a five game unbeaten streak. The 6-1-2 non-conference record marked just the sixth time the Buffs recorded at least six non-conference wins. CU extended its record to 6-1-3 after a tie at Oregon.
FIVE ON THE FIVE: CU and DU have competed in two tournaments together this season and will finally meet on Sunday. Five of six of Colorado and Denver’s opponents have been the same. Though the teams have the same record, the scores were oftentimes different.
NATIONAL STANDOUTS: The NCAA released its stats through games of September 8, and the Buffs shine on the national stage. The Buffs are just one of seven Division I teams to have shut out five opponents so far this season, ranking fourth in the country for total shutouts. CU’s 0.165 goals-against average ranks seventh in the nation, and 0.944 save percentage ties for seventh. Annie Brunner shines in the net, recording the 10th best GAA and 11th best save percentage. The Buffs are one of 19 teams that still have a perfect record, and just one of nine to keep that record through six games. Madison Krauser is one of 12 players to have three or more assists in a single game this season. Anne Stuller is averaging 2.33 points per game, ranking in the top 25. Her 14 total points tie for ninth in DI. Both Stuller and Krauser rank in the top 15 with four assists apiece. Brie Hooks averages one goal a game, tying for 15, and ranks ninth with six goals.
LEADERS OF THE PAC: The Buffs are also standing out in the Pac-12 Conference. CU has the sole lead over the competition in shots (132), goals-against average (0.16), shutouts (5) and ties for the lead in goals allowed (1). The Buffs also rank in the top three for points (38), assists (12) and goals (13). Five Buffs also rank in the top 10 in individual categories. Stuller leads with 34 shots, Hooks with three game-winning goals and Brunner with five shutouts.
HOOKS, LINE AND SINKER: Against Alabama, Brie Hooks hit her third game-winner and sixth goal of her young career. In the 97th minute, Madison Krauser was deep in the midfield when she crossed to Hooks, who took a close-range shot from five yards out. With the keeper edging out of goal to meet her, the ball hit the right post, but the ball got some spin and reached the back of the net.
HAT TRICK ANNIE: Anne Stuller scored her first hat trick and recorded her sixth multi-goal performance on Sunday. She has had at least one multi-goal game in each of the last three seasons. The hat trick was just the second in program history. Stuller got a rebound off her own penalty kick attempt to net her first goal of the game. She then assisted Olivia Pappalardo to put the Buffs up 2-1. In less than a four minute span in the second half, Stuller scored two more goals to notch her place at the top of the CU record books. Stuller is now just one multi-goal game away from tying the record set by Nikki Marshall and Katie Griffin.
WINNING SPIRIT: Former Buff Nikki Marshall was waived by Portland Thorns FC late last week, shocking fans and soccer insiders alike. Marshall was one of three players to start all 22 regular season matches for Thorns FC during the inaugural National Women’s Soccer League season. During the regular season, she contributed one assist, and added the game-tying assist in the NWSL semifinals to help the team to victory after an early 2-0 deficit. Marshall and Thorns FC won the inaugural championship title, marking the second consecutive championship for Marshall, who was the WPSL Elite Championship MVP last season with the Western New York Flash. “During our inaugural season, Nikki Marshall has been a very good player both on and off the field for Portland Thorns FC,” Portland head coach Cindy Parlow Cone said in a press release. “Nikki played a very significant role in our success during the season and we can’t thank her enough for her service to the club and for helping Portland win the first NWSL championship.” On Monday, Marshall was selected by the Washington Spirit during the 2013 NWSL Waiver Draft. She was the only player chosen from the 11 available. Marshall returns to the city where she was originally drafted seventh overall in 2010’s Women’s Professional Soccer Draft by the Washington Freedom. As a rookie, Marshall appeared in 25 games with the Freedom, and appeared in six matches after the franchise moved to Florida in 2011 and became magicJack. “We are very excited about the prospect of bringing a player of Nikki’s quality and experience to our club,” Spirit coach Mark Parsons said in a release. “She has the ability and character we want and need here at the Washington Spirit.” As a versatile defender, Marshall could be a great asset to the Spirit, who finished last season in last place, with a 3-14-5 record. With contract terms currently in negotiation, Marshall will decide whether to further pursue a professional soccer career. “I know that I’m going to miss soccer when I’m done, no matter when I decide to retire,” Marshall told Soccer Wire. “Right now, I just have an open mind. I’m enjoying home and I’m going to see how the next few months go. I’m not going to say either way – I don’t think I’m ready to be done, but I could be. I’ll have to feel it out.”
NSCAA TV: The CU soccer team will be featured on next Tuesday’s NSCAA Weekly College Highlights and Rankings Show. The show airs at 11 a.m. on September 17 on nscaatv.com, and will include highlights from Sunday’s game along with interviews with players and head coach Danny Sanchez.
NEXT WEEK: The Buffs conclude the non-conference portion of the season with the Omni Hotels Colorado Women’s Soccer Classic. The weekend begins with Northern Colorado taking on UNLV at 1:30 p.m. on Friday. Next up the Buffs take on Stoney Brook at 4 p.m. The first 200 fans at that game will receive a FREE CU soccer mini ball! Stony Brook faces Northern Colorado to begin Sunday’s games at 11 a.m. CU concludes the weekend with a match-up against UNLV at 1:30 p.m. Be sure to stick around after the game for a special autograph session with the team.