The last home game for five CU women's soccer seniors was an emotional and hard-fought loss.
Very early on, the Buffs came out with a lot of energy, which was a focal point for CU head coach Bill Hempen’s strategy after the 8-0 loss to UCLA Friday.
“We had a dud on Friday,” Hempen said. “But today they were back to themselves today.”
With junior Amy Barczuk playing center back for the first time in weeks, the CU defenses were solid, but offensively the Buffs were lacking with four shots in the first half—none of which were on target.
USC out-shot the Buffs with eight in the first half, but with CU goalkeeper Kayla Millar’s effort to make three huge saves in the first half. There was no score headed into halftime.
USC broke the seal in the 59th minute on a breakaway counter-attack from a long ball shot by senior defender Brittany Kerridge that went over the top of the Buffs’ defense. Senior forward Ashley Freyer sprinted towards goal, doing a cut at the top of the penalty box that caused Amy Barczuk and Kayla Millar to collide, giving her a wide open net for an easy finish.
The Buffs started playing more threatening offense toward the end of the game and had a lot of chances, including a breakaway with Hayley Hughes and two shots within the penalty spot with less than three minutes left in the game.
“Everything that went on there at the end of the second half [was] kind of a mop-up of what the season has been like,” Hempen said. “Hitting the crossbar, missing open nets. It’s time to move on.”
Moving on was the theme of Sunday afternoon as seniors Caroline Danneberg, Hannah Perry, Kate Russell, Amy Steiner and Maggi Steury were honored for their careers at CU with an emotional celebration in which coach Hempen made a speech for each of the players in front of the Prentup crowd after the game.
“All of my four years I’ve loved every single one of the girls and that’s a rare thing,” Russell said. “It’s been a wonderful experience.”
As her tenure at CU ends, Russell plans on playing overseas after she graduates.
“[Seniors are] unique because they didn’t all come in together with transfers and all that,” Hempen said. “But the fact that they came in and meshed well together personality wise and gave a lot of input in our team decision making this year says a lot about this group.”
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Joseph Wirth at firstname.lastname@example.org.