|Anne Stuller against Colorado College
First-year University of Colorado head soccer coach Danny Sanchez was pleased with his first spring in Boulder. He was able to assemble the staff he wanted, players responded with a solid effort during workouts and the Buffaloes enjoyed success in their spring matches.
But Sanchez and his players know the hard work is just beginning, and even bigger challenges loom in the fall.
“One of the pleasant surprises is how much everyone has bought in from day one,” Sanchez said “A lot of that has to do when you have a new coach, but that sometimes wears off. They’ve worked hard all spring, became more fit, and we had some success on the field. We know it’s a whole different ball game in the fall, but we had to start somewhere.”
Colorado won six of seven spring matches and outscored its opponents 10-2. The Buffaloes won their final five, logging shutouts in four of those outings.
In a pair of home matches on April 15, Colorado shutout Northern Colorado (2-0) and Colorado College (1-0). Shaye Marshall scored a goal in each game and Storie Ledger accounted for the second against the Bears.
As they did throughout the entire spring, goalkeepers Annie Brunner and Kayla Millar shared time in the net contributing to the shutouts.
On the final spring weekend, the Buffaloes traveled to Grand Junction, Colo., for three games in a 24-hour window. CU started off with a 1-0 win over host Colorado Mesa on a goal from Anne Stuller in the final minute. Just a couple hours later, the Buffaloes shut out 2011 Western Athletic Champion Utah State, 1-0 on a goal from Hayley Hughes. CU capped off its weekend with a 2-1 win over Southern Utah in come from behind fashion.
“Coaches will always say that spring is about individual development, which it is, but we also wanted to establish a bit of the winning mentality,” Sanchez said. “Whenever there are two teams with uniforms and officials and a scoreboard people want to win...from that side of things I think we were pleased to build some momentum.”
The spring season culminated a relatively smooth transition for Sanchez’s staff. First, the easy part was the whole staff had familiarity with each other. Assistant coaches Jason Green and Don Trentham were on Sanchez’s Wyoming staff last year and volunteer assistant Nicole Rice played for the Cowgirls during Sanchez’s four years in Laramie.
|Assistant Coach Jason Green works with goalkeeper Annie Brunner.
Second, everyone was on board by the first week of January, allowing the staff to be together at Colorado the entire spring semester. But most importantly, the student-athletes responded to the new staff.
“We’re consistent in our message that we don’t ask the players to do anything that we’re not willing to do ourselves, as far as buying in and being committed,” Sanchez said. “Going forward long term the opportunity to have people around you that you respect that you want to work with all day, on the road and so forth, that permeates through the team.
“When you look at the big picture, when current players, future players look at us they see we’re on the same page, and at the end of the day we’re going to do all we can to make the team the best they can be.”
The next step begins the first day of August, as the team will gather once again with the staff to begin preparations for Sanchez’s first season on the bench, and the Buffaloes second in the Pac-12 Conference.
Colorado will have solid contingent of returners – including six seniors - but the coaching staff expects to add another 14-15 players, meaning half of the 2012 squad has yet to put on a Buffaloes jersey. Five of those newcomers signed with the Buffaloes in February with others to be announced later this summer.
“We’ve started to establish how we want to do things, how we want to play, but we realize half the team isn’t here yet,” Sanchez said. “Who knows what is going to happen August 1, once everybody’s here and when we’re really getting everybody incorporated. But we looked at this spring as this is our team and these are the players that are committed to the program. So we’ll worry about August in August.”
Colorado players each have individual workout programs developed by coach Trentham and Speed-Strength & Conditioning coach Steve Englehart that they will follow through the summer months. The coaching staff meanwhile hits recruiting hard in May and combines that venture with summer camps for boys and girls in June. Mini-Buffs half-day camps and Lil’ Buffs all-day camps for ages 6-12 run from June 4-8 while residential boys and girls camps run June 21-24 for ages 10-18. Click here for more information on CU soccer summer camps.
In July the staff sets its focus to the 2012 season in anticipation of the August 1 reporting date. The Buffaloes expect to announce their 2012 schedule officially in June once scheduling logistics from the new Pac-12 Networks have been set.