Denver - The University of Colorado soccer team was handed its first loss of the season Friday night at Denver. The Pioneers won 4-1 in the first night of the DU Invitational to end CU's five game undefeated streak.
Denver scored twice in the first five minutes, and the Buffaloes were never able to come back from the early deficit. A regrouping of CU defense made for a 1-1 second half, though DU lead goalkeeper Lara Campbell had one more save than CU's Annie Brunner and Kayla Millar combined. Campbell had five saves, and Maria Khan had one for DU, compared to just four by the Buffs.
The Buffs had the opportunity to watch DU play four times prior to their matchup, having competed in two other tournaments with the Pioneers. In the teams' 16th meeting, the Pioneers struck gold, narrowing CU's all-time lead to 8-7-1.
"We knew the players were good," Sanchez said. "They were maybe struggling earlier in the season, but playing under their home lights for the first time this season against a major rival, they stepped up to the challenge. They were on fire, and there was no stopping them."
DU outshot CU 23 to 14. Captain Amy Barczuk led the Buffs with four shots, earning her the 10th spot on CU's all-time list. Barczuk has attempted 107 shots, passing Allsion Kidd (2004-07) and Meghan Swanzy (1998-2002), who previously rounded out the top 10 with 106 shots a piece. Though the Buffs and Pioneers had the same amount of shots on goal, Denver found the net early, and more often than any of CU's previous opponents this season.
"I think the big picture is all the credit goes to Denver," Sanchez said. "They scored two goals in the first five minutes and never looked back after. We didn't play our best soccer, but not many teams could have beat them the way they were playing."
Denver's first goal happened just 2:42 into the game off a free kick from 28 yards out by sophomore Sam Harder. Just two minutes later, the Buffs couldn't close out a well hit long range shot by Nicholette DiGiacomo, assisted by Kristen Hamilton.
The Pioneers didn't settle down in the first half, netting a third goal in the first 45. Hamilton was at it again in the 23rd minute, scoring her second goal of the season off an assist from Kalie Vaughn.
Sanchez says the Buffs were hanging by a thread going into the break with a 3-1 deficit, but got some better looks in the second half.
In the 60th minute, CU leading scorer Anne Stuller headed the ball, which bounced off a defender and gave the Buffs' their only goal of the game. At the 68:59 mark, the Pioneers closed out the game when Anna Willis scored her first goal of the season assisted by 2010 Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year Kaitlin Bast.
The Buffs are back in action on Sunday at 11 a.m. against Cincinnati in the final day of the DU Invitational. Coach Sanchez believes the short turnover will work to CU's advantage.
"We have the opportunity to turn around and get another crack at it against a very good Cincinnati team," Sanchez said. "You put it behind you, and we have the opportunity to do it on Sunday. We're excited to get out there."