The Colorado Buffaloes women’s soccer team hosted No. 20 California Golden Bears on Friday at Prentup Field and after a sluggish first half in which the Bears scored a late goal, CU was unable to find much offensive momentum and lost, 1-0.
The Buffaloes (7-3-3, 1-2-1 Pac-12) and the Bears played a pretty quiet opening 45 minutes, as both teams fought a lasting war of attrition in and around the neutral zone.
The Buffs managed just one shot on goal in the first half, which came off the foot of sophomore forward Tatum Barton about four minutes before halftime.
“We didn’t come out with enough energy in the first half,” head coach Danny Sanchez said after the loss. “It felt like everything was a struggle to do. We dug ourselves a hole.”
In the seconds leading up to Cal’s lone, game-winning score, Buffs’ freshman defender Hannah Cardenas went down injured just outside of the goaltender’s box. Her injury did not draw a whistle. The Bears’ Katie Gifford launched a shot just over the outstretched hands of sophomore goalie Jalen Tompkins.
“We have to keep playing,” Sanchez said. “Everyone kind of paused and slowed down [and you can’t do [that.] You have to be mentally tough.”
The second half saw a reinvigorated Buffaloes offensive attack. The Buffs managed five shots on goal in the final 45 minutes of play and had multiple close calls.
Senior forward Becca Rasmussen put on some moves for the Buffaloes in the second half. If she earned a nickel for every time she was able to dribble the ball in between the legs of a Cal defender, she’d at least have enough change for a 25-cent gumball from the candy machine.
“We were slow … in the first half,” Rasmussen said. “A lot of our passes were short and we weren’t really connecting well but as soon as we started finding each other’s feet and [creating] energy towards the goal, we got a lot of chances.”
The last 15 minutes of play seemed like it should have yielded a goal for Colorado for how much time it spent harassing Cal’s goalie Emily Boyd.
In the 75th minute, Rasmussen moved up the right side of the field, shaking a few defenders and made it within feet of the net. However, Boyd dove in front of her and secured the ball.
“[Boyd] is a four-year starter and she reads the game well,” Sanchez said. “I don’t think there was anything more [Rasmussen] could have done there. She created a good opportunity.”
Close to the 82nd minute mark, junior midfielder Megan Massey launched a corner kick towards the Bears’ net. It connected beautifully with senior defender Joss Orejel’s head. Unfortunately for Colorado, the ball hit the top post and bounced off, denying the team a goal on yet another solid opportunity.
“The second half was much better [than the first],” Sanchez said. “I thought we had the run of play. We held them without a corner kick for the whole game. It just didn’t go our way today.”
Up next for Colorado is another hosting gig, this time against the No. 2 Stanford Cardinal. The Buffs and the Cardinal will kickoff from Prentup Field in Boulder at 12 p.m. this Sunday, Oct. 8.
Contact CU Independent head Sports Editor Justin Guerriero at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @TheHungry_Hippo