TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The University of Colorado soccer team’s historic season has come to an end as the Buffaloes fell 4-0 to No. 3 ranked Florida State in Saturday’s Sweet 16 match-up.
The No. 1 seeded Seminoles scored three goals in the first 15 minutes, and the Buffs could never find the footing to respond.
For only the fourth time this season, the Buffs allowed an opponent to take over 20 shots. The Seminoles took 24, while holding the Buffs to a season-low four (marking just the sixth time this year the Buffs have taken fewer than 10 shots in a game). Senior Anne Stuller (who set season records at CU this year with 93 shots and 53 shots on goal) led CU with two shots and one on goal. Senior co-captain Annie Brunner grabbed three saves in the net.
“This whole season has been a dream for me,” Stuller said. “We knew we were coming in today with a big challenge ahead of us and Florida State showed us what a good team they were but I’m not going to hang my head. I have so much to be proud of and how proud I am of my team.”
After beginning the year with a program-best five shutouts and six wins, CU concludes its record-breaking season with a 14-7-2 record – marking just the fifth time in program history the Buffs won at least 14 games in a single season. As it did in 2006 – the Buffs’ only other trip to the Sweet 16 – CU’s season is put to an end by a top three ranked Atlantic Coast Conference opponent (the Buffs fell to No. 1 Notre Dame in ’06).
Florida State keeps alive the nation’s longest active streak of trips to the NCAA quarterfinals, reaching the fourth round for the ninth consecutive year. FSU improves to 21-1-3, with its only loss coming to No. 1 Virginia and extends its home unbeaten streak to 34 games (and to 31 games in NCAA play). The Seminoles are the only remaining seeded team in their quadrant of the bracket. They will face the winner of the Boston College-Illinois (who both took down seeded teams in the Round of 32) match-up next Friday in the Elite Eight.
“I think that Florida State is very good, I’m just going to state the obvious,” CU head coach Danny Sanchez said. “We have played a lot of good teams this year but just the way that they came out and the way they possessed and created chances; getting that early goal, I think that we needed to get through that first stretch of the game and that didn’t happen. Then after that we were just chasing the game. I am proud of the team and how they continued to battle. I mean we gave up three goals in the first 14 minutes and it could have gotten ugly.”
The first half belonged to the Seminoles, with FSU outshooting CU 14-2. It took just 36 seconds for the Seminoles to take their first shot, with Carson Pickett knocking the left post. Less than one minute later, FSU had grabbed the lead. At 1:19, Michaela Hahn crossed to the far post to Dagny Brynjarsdottir, who headed one in past the keeper.
Two shots and less than six minutes later, FSU was ready to score again. The Noles extended their lead to 2-0 at 6:59 as Brynjarsdottir took little time to record her fourth multiple goal game of the season. Isabella Schmid found Jamia Fields at the right edge, who crossed to Brynjarsdottir near the net. Her header bounced off the left post, and came into the net off Brunner.
The Buffs continued to struggle to make any moves into FSU territory, taking until the 12th minute to take their first of two first half shots – with Madison Krauser breaking away from the pack to shoot wide right. The Noles’ attack continued to perplex the CU defense, scoring again in the 15th minute to increase their lead to 3-0. Megan Campbell took a free kick from just beyond midfield, sending her strike to the net, where Kristin Grubka headed inside the left post.
In the final 30 minutes, the Buffs regained some focus. In a 22 minute span, the Buffs held the surging Seminoles to four shots with all but one off the mark. During that time, the Buffs were able to pick up some offensive momentum, when Brie Hooks came up with a big tackle just behind the FSU box to help Anne Stuller get free and shoot at the keeper.
FSU came back with a vengeance in the closing minutes of the half, taking three more shots. The Buffs defense held strong, blocking one and forcing the other two wide. With under minutes remaining before the break, FSU seemed to push their lead to 4-0 off an own goal when a throw-in reached the net, but the Seminoles were called offsides, keeping their lead at 3-0.
To the favor of the Buffs, the second half started off more slowly than the first, with CU getting the first offensive opportunity. In the 50th minute, Stuller rushed from the center, and crossed to Hooks at the right, setting up a corner kick. The ball got in front of the net, and despite lots of FSU players making contact, Hayley Hughes was able to strike the ball (a shot that would go high) as a Seminole defender went down.
The Buffs began to play more aggressively with an increased pressure (especially from Lizzy Herzl, who had several strong clearances) trying to limit the Seminole attack. In the 56th minute, while Brunner was drawn out of the net, Kassey Kallman gave her shot a bit too much heat, hitting the ball high. With more shots starting to come her way, Brunner picked up back-to-back saves.
In the 64th minute, the Buffs had a chance to bounce back, when Tori Cooper drew a foul just outside the penalty box, setting up great positioning for a free kick. Stuller put her striking skills to the test, but hit her ball high. The shot would be the Buffs’ last of the game.
Following a CU yellow card in the 70th minute, FSU was able to grab some momentum. There was lots of movement at the net following the free kick. Hahn got the ball at distance from Kallman and beat the keeper as Brunner tried to jump on the save, but the ball slid just to her right.
The pace would slow in the final 20 minutes, but the Seminoles would still take four more shots and continue to press the Buffs defensively until the final minute.
“I think that Florida State took their foot off the gas a little bit, but they still had their starting back four in there at the end and they were still pressing us,” Sanchez said. “I was pleased though how we played the second half and kept competing and playing with pride. This doesn’t diminish what this team has accomplished this year and where they came from this preseason getting picked 10th in the Pac 12, tied for last place for last year and then having the opportunity to play in the Sweet 16 against a great team like Florida State who will compete for a national championship, so there is no shame in that so I’m proud of this group.”