Denver - The University of Colorado soccer team has had a wild non-conference ride in the 2012 season. For the second time at the DU Invitational, the Buffs got on the board with an own goal. Sunday against Cincinnati, it was the determining shot, leading the Buffs to a 2-1 victory at CIBER Field at University of Denver Soccer Stadium.
At 4-1-2 this season, the Buffs have already tied last season's win total. Cincinnati drops to 3-3-1 with two losses this weekend. Captain Amy Barczuk and junior Hayley Hughes were named to the All-Tournament team.
"We played well today," head coach Danny Sanchez said. "We created more chances in this game than we have all season."
CU was hungry after Friday's 4-1 loss to Denver, outshooting Cincinnati 25-9 and forcing 12 saves in Sunday's win.
The Buffs came out with a vengeance in the first half. Junior Hayley Hughes rushed down the field to smash the ball in the first 25 seconds, but Cincinnati goalkeeper Kristina Utley was fast on the save.
"Their goalkeeper had a great game," Hughes said. "She had a lot of saves. It was unfortunate, but thankfully we got a few to drop. It was a good game."
CU kept up the fast-paced offensive pressure for the majority of the half, with Colorado outshooting Cinci 14 to four. The Buffaloes had nine shots on goal in the first half against the Bearcats, compared to just eight in the entirety of Friday night's game against Denver.
In the eighth minute Annie Brunner sent the ball flying down to the midfield. Olivia Pappalardo headed the ball to Hayley Hughes who broke away to scored her first goal of the season.
"As a striker, that first one she probably should have had it, but she didn't hang her head," Sanchez said. "At the end of the day, the important thing is we score goals ... I think it really showed some growth in her as an attacker and as a player. She's always going to be dangerous."
The Buffs continued to have some great looks on the goal, forcing Utley to save the ball seven times in the first 45 minutes. Stuller had three shots on goal, coming close to breaking away with 22 minutes remaining.
As the clock ticked closer to halftime, Cincinnati gained momentum. At 39:23, Lauren Hettinger took a corner kick that went deeper than CU's defense, allowing Megan Cravenor to net one in from 10 yards.
"There definitely was a defensive miscommunication," Bianca Jones said. "It started before when we didn't get our keeper out. We've been working on defense all year long, so we'll get better.
Amy Barczuk took a free kick in the closing minutes that went high, sending the game into the break tied at 1-1.
The second half was a tough fight for both teams. CU continued to make Utley work in the box. Stuller took some strong shots in the first 15 minutes of the second, including a hard-hit strike in the first three minutes that was saved to the left.
Quinn Krier continued her dominance as the Buffs' corner kicker, nearly leading one in off a header by Barczuk.
Cincinnati got a few more looks in the second half, with Brunner punching the ball away for her third save, but CU kept most of the pressure near the Bearcats' net. With 15 minutes remaining, Lauren Shaner rushed down the right side, passing it to Emily Paxton near the net. A Cinci defender tried to block a CU presence, but sent the ball in her own goal.
For the second time in the DU Invitational, the Buffs scored off an own goal. CU has only scored three times off of own goals. The first occurred in 2004 against Wake Forest, and the most recent was in 2009 in an 8-1 win against St. Mary's College.
CU gained momentum after the own goal shake-up, but neither team would score in the closing minutes.
"I think we deserved this one," Hughes said.
Colorado closes out its non-conference schedule with a Wyoming homecoming for head coach Danny Sanchez and assistants Jason Green and Don Trentham. The Buffs face the Cowgirls on Friday, Sept. 14 at 4 p.m. in Laramie, Wyo.
Your CU Soccer team will return to Prentup Field on Sunday, Sept. 16 when they take on Air Force. 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 and help cheer on the Buffs!