BOULDER – The University of Colorado soccer team came together Saturday night to reflect on its record-breaking 2013 campaign, celebrate its five graduating seniors and look forward to its future.
For the first time since the 2000 season, team awards were handed out to the most exemplary Buffaloes. Three of the team’s seniors earned team recognitions.
Anne Stuller was named the team’s offensive MVP. Stuller, a forward from Boulder, set single season records at CU in 2013 with 93 shots and 53 shots on goal. With 36 shots on goal in 2012, Stuller is the only Buff to rank in the top six of that category twice. In her senior season, she racked up just three fewer points that she did her first three seasons combined. She holds the all-time records for points (26), assists (eight) and shots by a CU senior, while her nine goals tie for the top spot. Stuller was an integral part of the Buffs run to the NCAA Sweet 16, scoring the game-winning goal against No. 15 Denver in the first round and contributing an assist in the Round of 32 against No. 19 BYU.
Classmate Annie Brunner was named the defensive MVP. The 2013 co-captain and goalkeeper from Arvada, Colorado had the best season of her four-year career as a senior. She posted a career-best 87 saves, 3.78 saves per game, 14 wins and nine shutouts – all of which rank in CU’s single season top nine. Her 1.11 goals-against average also rank 11th. Brunner is only the second Buff to have at least nine shutouts in a single season and record at least seven in back-to-back seasons. Brunner ranks in CU’s all-time top 15 in saves, wins, ties, shutouts, GAA, minutes, games started and played. She is currently furthering her soccer career as a member of FC Neunkirch of the Switzerland Nationalliga A.
Hayley Hughes, a defender and the 2013 co-captain from Highlands Ranch, Colo., received the Herbst Academic Award. Hughes was selected as first-team Pac-12 All-Academic for the third consecutive year (every year she was eligible for the honor). Hughes is the first soccer Buff to accomplish this feat in the Pac-12 Conference, and just the ninth total. Hughes majors in finance in the CU Leeds School of Business, with a minor in economics and a certificate in quantitative finance and holds a 3.93 cumulative grade-point average. Hughes was also named second-team Capital One CoSIDA Academic All-District VII in 2013.
Additionally, classmate Lizzy Herzl received her National Soccer Coaches Association of America Women’s Scholar All-America Third Team award. Herzl, a defender who holds a 3.47 cumulative GPA, is the first Buff to receive this honor and one of seven Pac-12 student-athletes to earn a spot on 2013’s first, second or third teams.
Brie Hooks was named the team’s Newcomer of the Year. The forward from Maple Valley, Wash. quickly made a name for herself in her rookie season. In the season opener, Hooks helped the Buffs to a 3-0 shutout of Northern Colorado behind a two-goal performance, becoming the first Buff in program history to score multiple goals in her CU debut. An important part of the Buffs’ attack throughout the season, Hooks was also key to their postseason run, drawing the foul that set up the game-winning goal over No. 15 Denver in the NCAA First Round. In CU’s freshman offensive record books, Hooks concluded the season ranked third with eight goals and fourth with 18 points. Her 42 shots tied for eighth. Her four game-winning goals tie for fourth best in a single season at CU and tie for fourth best in regular season conference play.
Two other Buffs were also awarded for their performances. Soon-to-be senior Darcy Jerman received the strength and conditioning award for her performance during the 2013 spring and fall seasons. In the fall, Jerman scored three goals and had one assist off 41 shots. Behind two goals, Jerman helped the Buffs to a 3-1 win over UNLV, becoming one of three Buffs in 2013 to have a multi-goal performance.
Classmate and Wyoming transfer Brooke Rice was the winner of the Buff Cup. Rice was the top point getter in all of last spring’s competitions, including strength and conditioning, technical tests and small-sided games. In 2013, her debut season at Colorado, Rice played in 16 games.
The 2013 University of Colorado soccer season began as head coach Danny Sanchez’s second and the Bufs’ third in the Pac-12, but would end as something much bigger. The season would become record-breaking for the team and for its individual players. It would boast big wins and match a program-best finish.
The Buffaloes would win 10 total non-conference games (including two in the NCAA Tournament), lose just twice at Prentup Field (both times to teams ranked No. 2 in the nation), and post a 14-7-2 overall, 4-5-2 Pac-12 record, proving the surging Buffs were ready to make a statement amongst the nation’s elite.
CU began what would be a historic season with statement wins over in-state rivals. The Buffs opened the 2013 campaign with the third annual Colorado Cup and their third straight 3-0 shutout of Northern Colorado in as many Cups. Two weather delays didn’t damper CU’s play as the Buffs held the Bears to just five shots and extended their perfect record against UNC, never losing a game or allowing a goal in seven meetings. The Buffs took the lead in the 21st minute off an own goal. In her debut in a Colorado kit, freshman Brie Hooks scored the final two goals to help the squad to victory.
Next up in Cup play was Colorado College. Hooks continued to shine, scoring off an Anne Stuller assist in the 53rd minute, leading the Buffs to a 1-0 shutout. Through six games in the three years of the Cup, CU has remained undefeated. Despite defeating their opponents a combined 4-0, Denver became the first team to take the trophy away from the Buffs, winning on a goals scored differential.
The Buffs continued play against Colorado competition with a home match-up against Air Force. Defense was the name of the game for 72 minutes, before Stuller took over on the attack, netting two goals in less than five minutes to give the Buffs a 2-0 win. With the shutout, CU tied the record it set in 2012 with three straight shutouts to start the season – a record that was about to be shattered.
CU kept up its strong play on both ends of the ball against St. Mary’s College, defeating the Gaels 2-0. In just her fourth game at CU, Hooks had already raised her goal total to five on the season. She and Stuller continued to shine on the Buffalo attack, with Hooks scoring both her goals off Stuller assists. With her success in the midfield, Stuller became the first player since Kate Russell in 2010 to record at least two assists in a single game.
In an intense overtime battle against Alabama in the DU Invitational, the Buffs broke two records in one fell swoop. In the 85th minute, the Buffs broke the single-game program record with their 33rd shot of the game – edging out a record that dated back to 1996, the program’s first season. It was the record-shattering 39th shot that was the game-changer, as Hooks connected with a long pass from Madison Krauser to give the Buffs the 1-0 win in the 97th minute. The game also marked the team’s record-breaking fifth shutout to start the season.
Discontent with stopping at just two records, the Buffs made another big statement against UT Martin, defeating the Skyhawks 4-1 in the DU Invitational behind a Stuller hat trick. The Buffs didn’t slow their attack, taking 30 shots, including 20 in the first half alone, good enough for third most in a single game in program history. Annie Brunner allowed her first goal of the season at the 21 minute mark, but the Buffs responded with a vengeance. First, Stuller rebounded her own penalty kick to tie the game in the 24th minute. Less than two minutes later, sophomore Olivia Pappalardo scored her first collegiate goal, assisted by Stuller and Krauser. Stuller put the game away in the second half, scoring two more goals in less than three minutes, both off Krauser assists. Stuller is just the second Buff to score a hat trick and just the third to score three or more goals in a single game. Krauser also became the second Buff to have three assists in a game. Though their shutout streak was put to an end, they extended their winning streak to a program best 6-0 – the best start in program history and the fifth longest unbeaten streak.
With the city of Boulder and the state of Colorado both in a state of disarray due to severe flooding, the Buffs’ in-state rivalry game against No. 16 Denver was moved from Prentup Field to DU’s CIBER Field. Both teams were off to program best 6-0 starts entering the game, but something had to give. Unfortunately for the Buffs, the game didn’t go in their favor, as CU fell 3-0. DU just edged CU in shots (22 to 18) and shots on goal (eight to seven).
The Buffs quickly bounced back as they hosted the Omni Hotels Colorado Women’s Soccer Classic to conclude non-conference play. CU continued to prove its strengths in both offense and defense, defeating Stony Brook 4-0 to open the tournament. The Buffs outshot the Seawolves 20-4, including eight to zero on goal. Hooks notched the first goal at 2:15 off a Krauser assist. Krauser was at it again, scoring off an assist from Alex Huynh to give the Buffs a 2-0 lead. The Buffs continued to spread the offense, with Emily Paxton and Stuller putting the game away in the second half.
Colorado concluded non-conference play by breaking another record. CU earned its program-best eighth regular season non-conference win with a 3-1 victory over UNLV. It was just the third time the Buffs won at least eight of their first nine games. CU held UNLV to just six shots, all coming in the second half. Darcy Jerman put the Buffs up 1-0 in the third minute, and Heather Ward, scoring her first career goal, added the insurance before the break. UNLV got on the board in the 77th minute, but in the 82nd minute, Jerman put the game away on a PK and became the third Buff to have a multi-goal performance in 2013.
Pac-12 Conference play began with a big challenge – the No. 2 ranked Stanford Cardinal. CU held Stanford scoreless for 56 minutes, but two second half goals gave the Cardinals the 2-0 win. A crowd of 1,504 fans helped keep the Buffs in the game, but the Buffs (missing Hooks due to injury) could only get two shots on goal against the well-rounded Cardinal.
CU rebounded with two big home wins – their first conference victories at Prentup since joining the Pac-12 in 2011. Against Oregon State, the teams combined for three goals in the first 14 minutes, but second half defense was key as the Buffs won 2-1. Offensive all-stars Krauser and Stuller both notched goals early for the 2-0 lead. OSU responded with a goal of their own less than a minute after the Buffs grabbed the two goal lead, but they could never find the extra gear to grab the tie or the lead.
Though she moved to defense in her senior season, Hayley Hughes was the one who lit an offensive spark for the Buffs against Oregon. Having defended one of Oregon’s best players the majority of the game, Hughes also led the team with four shots, all on goal. In the 63rd minute, Hughes got the ball from 40 yards out and blasted it toward the net and into the corner to give the Buffs the 1-0 win – their 10th victory of the season.
A trip to Washington served as the Buffs’ first true road test of the season. Their second away game of the year also marked just their third loss of the season. Though the Buffs led the conference in shots and corners, Washington State held CU to just nine shots and a season-low one corner kick. WSU’s Cara Wegner scored in the fourth and 52nd minutes and the Cougars added insurance in the 58th to shut out Colorado 3-0.
The Buffs were hungry for a road win, and got it in their next match. Though Washington held CU to just one shot in the first half, the Buffs dominated the Huskies in the second, outshooting UW 12-5. Despite CU’s increased pressure on both sides of the pitch, the game headed into overtime in a scoreless tie. In the 96th minute, Stuller booted a free kick from 20 yards out to the near post to give CU the 1-0 victory over the Huskies, putting UW’s unbeaten conference run to an end.
The Colorado heroics continued into the Buffs’ next road trip. Against No. 9 California, Krauser scored in the 67th minute. As the final minute of regulation ticked down, the Buffs looked primed for the upset. Following a CU foul, the Golden Bears tied things up with just four seconds remaining in regulation. In overtime play, Cal outshot CU 6-1, but Brunner grabbed three more saves to add to her four from regulation to hold the 1-1 tie.
October concluded with the Buffs’ final home games of the season. First up was Southern California. In a game that saw 34 total fouls and five yellow cards, the Buffs came out the victor behind goals by two freshmen. In just her third game back after being sideline by injury, Hooks was at it again, netting her eighth goal of the season in the 66th minute. Hooks continued to press the net, assisting Alyssa Herwatt to her first career goal in the 72nd. The Women of Troy attempted a comeback, but their lone goal with less than three minutes remaining wouldn’t be enough.
CU faced stiff competition on Senior Day, forcing No. 2 UCLA into a defensive battle. Though the Buffs pushed a scoreless first half, the Bruins gained the upper-hand in the 56th minute, a lead that would hold through regulation. In front of the eighth largest crowd in the history of Prentup Field, CU ended its home season with an 8-2 record – its only losses to teams ranked second in the nation.
The Buffs concluded the regular season with a tough three-game road trip. First up was Arizona State, where in 2012, the Sun Devils edged the Buffs in the final 22 seconds of double overtime. In 2013, the Buffs held their composure against an aggressive attack (ASU was called for 15 fouls and earned five yellow cards) and discourteous crowd (the Sun Devil student section was thrown out of the game). CU got an early lead in the 15th minute when Krauser struck one past the keeper. ASU would even the score before the break and grab the lead in the 53rd. The Buffs got their equalizer in the 71st minute, when Jerman scored off a penalty kick and helped the squad force a tie.
Next up, Arizona turned the tables on Colorado. After a 3-0 blanking of the Wildcats last season, Arizona had a thirst for redemption. Despite the game being stuck in a scoreless draw at halftime, Arizona stacked up three late goals to stomp the Buffs. The Wildcats outshot the Buffs 24-12 and held CU to just five corner kicks in their victory.
In rivalry week, CU looked to end their regular season on a high note. The Buffs found a worthy opponent in Utah, heading into halftime in a scoreless tie for the 12th time in the regular season and their second in a row. For over 70 minutes, the game remained scoreless, but that changed in a surprising fashion at 70:44. As Tori Cooper faced a defender one-on-one, she slid the ball towards the net. Utah keeper Lindsey Luke and one of her defenders both came out to meet the ball, with the defender inadvertently causing an own goal to give the Buffs the lead. CU looked a bit reenergized after the goal, but Utah evened the score. A controversial call helped set up a Utah corner kick, a shot that would set up a goal and tie things at 1-1 with 13 minutes remaining in regulation. The teams fought through two overtimes, and the Utes gave the Buffs their only overtime loss of the season with a strike in the 104th minute.
Winless through their final four games, the Buffs seemed unsure about their Tournament fate. On November 11, the team’s preseason hopes for a postseason berth became reality as their name was called in the final quadrant of the NCAA Tournament bracket. Their trip to the Women’s Soccer Championship would be the program’s first since 2008, when they fell in the first round to South Dakota State. Coming off tough conference competition, the Buffs faced an imposing opponent standing in their way out of the first round – in-state rival and fourth seeded Denver.
Putting the past behind them (though using the fact that no current players had ever tasted victory over the Pioneers as an inspirational tool), the Buffs looked to make a statement against No. 15 Denver. And what a statement they made. CU just edged Denver in nearly every category, outshooting DU 15 to 13 and getting three more corner kicks, but took the shot that counted most – the game-winner. In the 84th minute, Hooks was fouled just outside the left corner of the penalty box, setting up a free kick for super striker Stuller. Stuller bent her shot over the wall of defenders, getting the ball to deflect and reach the far post to give DU just its second defeat of the season. On the defensive end, the Buffs also held DU’s record-breaking seniors and leading scorers Kristen Hamilton and Nicholette DiGiacommo to just three shots combined, with none on goal.
With one great upset under their belt, the Buffs headed to Tallahassee, Fla., where more challenges awaited. In an already record-breaking season, the Buffs kept with the theme against No. 19 BYU in the Round of 32. First, Paxton’s shot off a corner kick snuck off a deflection in the 21st minute. Just over 10 minutes later, Carly Bolyard extended the lead with a beautiful strike. Though BYU got on the board in the 59th minute, CU’s even play was too much to overcome, as the Buffs extended their two-goal game unbeaten streak to 10. The Buffs had now upset back-to-back ranked opponents for the first time since 2010.
David had beaten Goliath twice, but now, the Buffs were up against a much, much bigger Goliath in the Sweet 16. No. 1 seeded and No. 3 ranked Florida State had fallen just once in 2013, had not lost in its last 33 home games and held the nation’s longest active streak of trips to the NCAA quarterfinals. The Seminole attack came early and often, as FSU grabbed a 2-0 lead in the first seven minutes and scored three goals in the first 15. The Noles put the game away at 4-0 in the 70th minute. CU was only able to take four shots, with just one forcing a save out of FSU All-American keeper Kelsey Wys. Though the eventual NCAA runner-up ended Colorado’s tournament run, the Buffs had already put their names in the record books, matching their best post-season run with just the program’s second trip to the Sweet 16.