On Saturday, the No. 16 Colorado Buffaloes women’s soccer team played host to the Oregon Ducks at Prentup Field. The Buffs jumped out to a 3-0 first half lead and never relented, as they went on to win 4-1.
The undefeated Buffaloes (12-0-3) are riding high, keeping their unbeaten streak alive through the first half of Pac-12 play. With the win, the girls tie the longest unbeaten streak in program history at 15 games.
It was mostly Colorado attacking in the first half, as they put together some nice sequences of passes to get good chances near the box.
“I thought our movement was very good, and I thought we were playing on the front foot,” head coach Danny Sanchez said.
It was freshman midfielder Emily Groark and senior midfielder Megan Massey who were facilitating most of CU’s offense in the first half. Both players created space and passed effectively in the midfield, helping the Buffs keep possession.
Most attacking sequences early in the first half from CU looked threatening, but the Oregon defense held strong for the most part and made good clears for the first 30 minutes.
The Buffs finally caught a break when Oregon midfielder Nicole Seaman lost her balance in the Oregon box and fell on the ball with her hand.
Senior midfielder Taylor Kornieck was able to put away the ensuing penalty kick, drawing first blood and making it 1-0 Buffaloes at the 32 minute mark. With her 23rd career goal as a Buffalo, she passed Anne Stuller to become the fifth all-time leading scorer in CU’s history.
“The first goal, yea it was a penalty, but Taylor created it by putting pressure on their defenders,” Sanchez said. “So that was good, because I thought we had some chances before that.”
After being subbed in to the game, junior forward Steph Zuniga showed off her fancy footwork right away. After basically catching a ball with her foot, she made a defender miss and hit in a powerful cross that found the head of sophomore forward Marty Puketapu, who was able to put it behind Oregon goalie Halla Hinriksdottir to make the score 2-0.
“My whole life I’ve been working on getting the ball out of the air with my dad, so it was a perfect opportunity,” Zuniga said. “[I] got the ball down, I saw Marty screaming for it, and it was just a perfect opportunity to hit her a nice ball, and she delivered.”
Zuniga didn’t mind filling the “spark plug” role for the team, as she was subbed in and out three different times during the game.
“Ultimately, it’s all about the team,” Zuniga said. “If they need me to come off the bench and bring that spark, bring that energy … I’m totally fine with that.”
Beyond just Zuniga, coach Sanchez made good use of his substitutions. Other than the 11 that started the game, ten more players got to see the field, many of them underclassmen.
Oregon just couldn’t find a way to stop the bleeding before half, despite Colorado’s constant substitutions. After the Ducks conceded another foul in the box, Kornieck stepped up and drilled another penalty kick, the third goal in just nine minutes for the Buffs. This gave Colorado a commanding 3-0 lead just before halftime.
The girls seem to like scoring in bunches, as this was their ninth game this season in which they scored at least three goals.
“I think we just get the first one early, and the others just keep coming,” Kornieck said. “I think we get in the mindset of scoring, and it just makes it easier for us.”
Saturday was the first time CU had scored two penalty kicks in one game since 2002, when they did so against Maine.
Oregon was able to find the back of the net in the second half, as a header goal from Chardonnay Curran got the Ducks their first goal of the game in the 60th minute.
The Buffs would answer, however. After extending a possession that started with a corner kick, freshman forward Chaynee Kingsbury looped in a cross and freshman forward Libby Geraghty dove forward to put a perfect header in to the top corner for her first career goal as a CU Buff.
After completing a three-game homestand, the Buffs will ship out west next week as they take on Cal, then No. 1 Stanford, then come back to Boulder to face off against No. 2 USC.
Kornieck was adamant after the game that the Buffs had to stay focused if they wanted to keep a zero in the loss column.
“We just got to take each match one by one,” Kornieck said. “We gotta focus on Cal now, so just think that and [make] sure we don’t get big headed, and stay calm and stay cool and play how we normally play.”
Kornieck and the Buffs face off against Cal at Edwards Stadium next Thursday, Oct. 18, at 1 p.m.
Contact CU Independent Sports Staff Writer Alex Pepper at email@example.com.