Over 1,900 Colorado fans and student-athletes showed up to Prentup Field to watch the Buffs win the inaugural Colorado Cup Sunday afternoon.
Colorado defeated Northern Colorado 3-0 in its first home game of the season. The victory gave the Buffs a 2-0 start to the 2011 campaign, and earned them the Colorado Cup trophy. Colorado and Denver both finished with two wins, but CU scored more goals over the weekend to break the tie.
CU head coach Bill Hempen was an instrumental part in starting the tournament. He feels the Colorado Cup did its job in encouraging youth players around the state to aspire to play college ball.
"I'm so happy. It's been a dream of mine. I couldn't do it without the coaches of the other teams," he said. "It couldn't have been any better. And obviously with us winning, I'm pretty darn happy."
Colorado opened the game showing its quick players up top. Hayley Hughes created a great scoring opportunity with her speed, breaking away from the UNC defense just 15 minutes into the first half. She was robbed by Northern Colorado keeper Kirstin Salminen, but it was hard to miss her blazing down the sidelines. Hempen acknowledged her ability to accelerate will serve the team well as they transition into a new Pac-12 Conference.
"Everybody's got a 'Hayley' in the Pac-12. Probably three or four of them, if not more. Having her a part of this is going to help that transition," Hempen said.
After a hard shot from Erin Bricker in the final four minutes of the half, UNC's defense failed to clear the ball and instead left Clare Madden able to play an open pass to senior Kate Russell for a CU goal. This was Russell's first goal of the season after leading the Buffs in points (3g, 5a) in 2010.
"The first goal was a great attack," said Russell. "We missed that first shot, and Clare played a great ball back to me and I just found a corner and buried it."
"After we got that first goal in the first half, I think everything really started to come together," added Hughes.
The Buffs found the back of the net again early in the second half. Caroline Danneberg passed to Anne Stuller who drove hard to the net, forcing Salminen out of her box. Rather than taking the shot, Stuller played a selfless ball to a wide open Hughes who scored for the second time this weekend. Hughes two goals during the Colorado Cup made her just one shy of her total goals scored during the entire 2010 season (three goals last year tied her as CU's leading scorer).
CU freshman Darcy Jerman also scored her second goal of the season, after Shaye Marshall froze the Bears defense with her fast feet. The extra time gave her a chance to serve the ball to Jerman who put the game away 3-0.
Despite the score, the Bears didn't go down without a fight and the game proved to be very physical. Each team had a yellow card, and combined for 19 fouls.
"I thought it was a very hard won win," said Russell. "It feels very good to win because we worked really hard that whole game. I think our team chemistry is just really strong this year."
It shows. Colorado has now scored one third of the total goals from the 2010 season (24). The next home game is August 28, when the Buffs welcome Wyoming to Prentup at 1 p.m.
Go green with the Buffs:
Make a healthy and environmentally friendly trip to Prentup Field for the Sunday, Aug. 28 CU game against Wyoming. The game starts at 1:00 p.m. and the Buffs are encouraging fans to ride their bicycles to the field. The first 100 fans who "Pedal to Prentup" will receive a FREE CU t-shirt. Admission and parking are FREE so grab your family and friends for a bike ride to Prentup Field to help cheer on the Buffs!