QUICKLY: After their first defeat of Denver in four years, the University of Colorado soccer team has advanced to the second round of the NCAA Women’s Soccer Championship. The Buffaloes will face Brigham Young University in the Round of 32, the first match-up between the teams since 2007 (also the last year the Buffs advanced out of the first round of the NCAAs). The winner will face the victor of the game between Ole Miss and host team and No. 1 seed Florida State.
COLORADO VS. BYU: BYU holds a 3-0-1 series lead over CU, though the teams have never met on neutral ground. CU has netted two goals each time it has played a ranked BYU, first in a 5-2 loss to No. 17 BYU in 1998 and a 3-2 defeat to the No. 22 Cougars in 2006. In their most recent meeting, the Buffs and Cougars finished in a scoreless double overtime draw. The Buffs and Cougars have met one prior time in the NCAA Tournament. BYU upset No. 11 CU in the Buffs’ first ever NCAA appearance in 2003.
SCOUTING THE COUGARS: BYU holds a 15-4-1 record, good enough for the 24th best won-lost-tied percentage. BYU hasn’t lost in its last eight games, with its last defeat a 2-1 loss to then-No. 18 Santa Clara. While the Cougars have grabbed wins over then-No. 25 LSU, No. 20 Baylor and No. 6 Portland, they’ve also suffered a loss to then-No. 19 Denver and fell in a scoreless tie to Oregon. Most recently, BYU swiftly defeated Weber State 4-0 in the NCAA opening round. BYU has one of the nation’s stingiest defenses, with West Coast Conference Goalkeeper of the Year Erica Owens holding the 19th best goals-against average (0.64). With 10 clean sheets this season, the team also ranks in the top 29 in shutout percentage. The Cougar attack is also nothing to sneeze at, with the squad ranking in the top 55 in scoring offense, assists and points. BYU has 12 goal scorers, including seven players with at least three goals apiece. Freshman Ashley Hatch leads the pack with six goals and seven assists, while senior Cloee Colohan also impresses with six goals and four assists. Four-time conference Coach of the Year Jennifer Rockwood has led the Cougars to back-to-back conference championships and 15 total NCAA Tournaments, including a trip to the Elite Eight last season where the No. 1 seeded Cougars fell to the eventual NCAA Champions North Carolina.
LAST WEEK: CU seniors got their first ever taste of victory over No. 15 and fourth-seeded Denver on Saturday in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament. The Buffs just edged the Pioneers in nearly every category. CU outshot DU 15 to 13 (with six on goal to DU’s three). CU also took three more corner kicks (seven to four), helping set up more shooting opportunities at the net. The Buffs’ backline held DU’s two leading scorers and record-breaking seniors Kristen Hamilton and Nicholette DiaGiacomo (who helped Denver become one of just 16 Division I teams with multiple double-digit scorers) to just three shots combined, with none on goal. In the 84th minute, Brie Hooks was fouled just outside the left corner of the box, setting up the free kick that would give the Buffs the game. Anne Stuller bent her shot over the wall of defenders, getting the ball to deflect and reach the far post for her ninth goal of the season. CU handed Denver just its second loss of the season as the Buffs got revenge on the Pioneers after DU’s 3-0 win earlier in the season put an end to the Buffs’ record-setting start of six wins to begin the 2013 campaign. In just their third win in Denver, the Buffs reclaim the slight series edge over the Pioneers, 9-8-1. The Buffs are now a perfect 2-0 against the Pioneers in NCAA play.
SCOUTING THE OPPOSITION: FSU-OLE MISS Florida State and Ole Miss will meet in the second game of the day on Thursday, with the winner advancing to face either CU or BYU in the Sweet 16. Kickoff of the third round match is at 10 a.m. MT on Saturday, Nov. 23. If the Buffs advance to the Sweet 16, it will be their first meeting with either Florida State or Ole Miss. FSU holds a 19-1-3 record this season, falling only to Atlantic Coast Conference foe and No. 1 ranked Virginia. FSU defeated South Alabama 5-0 in their first round of NCAA play. The Seminoles are unbeaten through their last 32 games at Seminole Soccer Complex. Ole Miss is 16-5-2 this season including a 1-0 win over then-No. 25 LSU. The Rebels embarrassed Jackson State 9-0 in their NCAA opening match, behind goals by seven different players and a hat trick by Rafaelle Souza.
SUCCESS ON AND OFF THE PITCH: Three members of the CU soccer team earned spots on All-Pac-12 Conference teams. Seniors Anne Stuller and Lizzy Herzl were named second-team and honorable mention, respectively, while newcomer Brie Hooks was selected to the Freshman Team. This is the first all-conference honor for each. For the second straight year, Stuller and Herzl were also honored as College Sports Madness All-Pac-12 Conference Second Team selections. Senior co-captain Hayley Hughes received her fifth academic honor, earning Capital One CoSIDA Academic All-District VII Second Team honors.
SHOOT 'EM UP ANNE: Anne Stuller continues to shine in what has been her best season of her already impressive four-year career. Stuller, who’s become known for her killer striking skills, helped lead the Buffs to their 1-0 win over Denver with her eighth career game-winner. In her final season, Stuller has set single season records for shots (89) and shots on goal (52). With 36 shots on goal last season, Stuller is the only Buff to rank in the top six of that category twice. With 25 points, off nine goals and seven assists, this season, she is just four shy of her total from her first three seasons combined. Her career point total ties for second all-time at CU. Stuller is the first Buff to net at least nine goals since Gianna DeSaverio netted nine in 2008. Stuller’s assist, goal and game-winning goal totals as a senior rank in the top five on the CU single season list. She holds the all-time top spot for points, assists and shots by a senior at CU and is tied for first in goals by a senior. Stuller ended the regular season ranking in the Pac-12’s top seven in shots, points, assists and goals. Stuller also ranks in the top five in the CU career record books in points, goals, game-winning goals, shots and shots on goal (with 117 SOG, she’s just four shy of tying the all-time record). She also ties for seventh most career assists (with seven of her 10 assists coming in her final season).
HERZL STANDS ABOVE THE CROWD: Lizzy Herzl has started all 21 games and played a team-high 1,935 minutes her senior season. As part of the Buffs’ backline, she has helped the squad to its second consecutive eight shutout season, including a record-breaking five to start the 2013 campaign. Herzl has also taken 11 shots this season, with five on target. Herzl earned back-to-back Big 12 Newcomer of the Week honors in 2010 when her game-winning goals lifted the Buffs over No. 12 UCLA in double overtime and No. 6 Texas A&M in overtime (marking the Buffs’ first regular season win over the Aggies). She is only one of four Buffs to score at least two-game-winning goals in overtime play.
HOOKS IN THE BOOKS: Brie Hooks has been a standout player in her debut season at Colorado. In her first collegiate game, Hooks helped the Buffs to a 3-0 shutout of Northern Colorado behind a two-goal performance. Hooks is the first Buff in program history to score two goals in her Colorado debut. Hooks was an important part of the Buffs’ recent victory over Denver, drawing the foul that set up the game-winning goal. In CU’s freshman offensive record books, she ranks third with eight goals and fourth with 18 points. Her 41 shots rank ninth. Her eight goals also tie for eighth most in a single season at CU. Her four game-winning goals tie for fourth best in a single season at CU and also tie for fourth best in the conference.
SPARKY STRIKES AGAIN: In her final season, Hayley Hughes has been an important part of the Buffs’ defense, starting all 21 games and helping the Buffs to nine shutouts, including a record-breaking five to open the season. Hughes has also lit a spark for the offense, netting the game-winner in the Buffs’ 1-0 victory over Oregon to help the squad to its first ever back-to-back Pac-12 home wins. In four seasons, Hughes has played in all but one of the Buffs’ games, helping her rank in CU’s all-time top 10 in minutes and games started and played.
BRUNNER’S BEST: Senior goalkeeper and co-captain Annie Brunner has had her best season to date, further solidifying her place as one of CU’s best. Last Saturday, she recorded her ninth shutout of the season, the first time the Buffs have done so since 2008. She and Jessica Keller are the only Buffs to have at least nine shutouts in a single season and record at least seven in back-to-back seasons. Brunner is now the second-winningest keeper in program history with 32 in her career. Brunner has contributed to 24 total shutouts, and in 2013 has posted career-best season totals of 78 saves, a 3.71 save percentage and 0.98 goals-against average. With nearly 6,800 minutes played in her career, Brunner ranks seventh all-time at CU and ninth among the nation’s active goalkeepers.
TWICS: Catch This Week In Colorado Soccer at http://ow.ly/qX6r4.
TOURNEY TIME: The 2013 NCAA Tournament is the Buffs’ seventh tournament. The Buffs made six consecutive tournaments from 2003-08, posting a 4-6-1 record. Their best performance was a trip to the Sweet 16 in 2006. CU earned its fifth NCAA win on Saturday and has made its first appearance in the Round of 32 since 2007.
NSCAA: The Buffs received votes in 10 of the final 11 regular season NSCAA/Continental Tire Women’s Polls. BYU ranked 19th in the final regular season poll.
STIFF COMPETITION: The Buffs have faced stiff competition this season and hold a 1-3-1 record against ranked opponents. CU got its revenge on Denver (who was ranked No. 16 in their meeting earlier in the season when DU took down CU 3-0) by defeating the No. 15 Pioneers in the NCAA first round. The win was the Buffs’ first over a ranked opponent since 2010, when the squad beat No. 12 UCLA and No. 6 Texas A&M in back-to-back games.
FIRST: This season marked a year of firsts for CU. After breaking program records earlier this season by shutting out their first five opponents and winning their first six games, the Buffs continued the trend by winning eight non-conference games for the first time in school history. The Buffs also earned their first Pac-12 home wins with victories over Oregon State and Oregon (CU’s first wins over both teams). The Buffs’ overtime victory at Washington was their first over the Huskies. CU’s win over USC marked the first time the Buffs have gotten two wins over a single Pac-12 Conference opponent (the Buffs beat the Trojans 1-0 in double overtime in Los Angeles last season).
PAC-12 PRESENCE: After back-to-back 11th place finishes in their first two seasons in the Pac-12 Conference, the Buffs were chosen to finish 10th in the 2013 Pac-12 Women’s Soccer Coaches Poll. The Buffs broke expectations this season, finishing tied for sixth in conference play, though at one point in the season, they were tied for second place. CU’s 41 total points throughout the regular season and the opening round of the NCAAs ranks third among Pac-12 teams. Colorado continued to prove its strength, becoming one of six Pac-12 members to make the NCAA Tournament. Along with UCLA and Stanford, CU is one of three teams to advance to the second round of play. Each team advanced on a shutout, with UCLA blanking San Diego State 3-0 and Stanford defeating Cal State Fullerton 1-0.