Buffs Come Up Short
GREENSBORO, N.C.— Colorado soccer's season came to an unpleasant close, falling 1-0 to South Alabama in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Tuesday night.
South Alabama (14-8-1) broke through in the 58th minutes getting one past Dani Hansen. From that point on CU chased the lead, looking to get back to even.
"First off, congratulations to South Alabama," head coach Danny Sanchez said after the game. "I thought they played really well. We knew they were a good team. They had some mixed results in the spring because they were kind of breaking in a new team. Over the 90 minutes, I thought they played really well. We didn't do enough, unfortunately, to get the result tonight."
Colorado (9-6-2) controlled the majority of the scoreless first half and hit two crossbars, including one from Shanade Hopcroft in the 90th minute, but was unable to find the equalizer.
The Buffs led in shots, 14-9, getting 11 in the second half. The ball just couldn't find its way on net, registering only three shots on target.
"If you look throughout the season, chances were at a premium for us," Sanchez added. "When we created those we needed to be more efficient in the final third. Obviously, in the last 25 or 30 minutes, we created some chances because that is what the game was giving us because we were down a goal and were chasing it.
"Over the 90 minutes, I don't know if we were a little tight, but at the end of it when you look at our whole season it had been a struggle to create a lot. When you play this many one-goal games, sometimes you are not going to get the result. Unfortunately, that was what happened tonight."
The Jaguars advance to play Oklahoma State in the second round on Friday.
HOW IT HAPPENED: South Alabama earned the game's first corner chance in the 7th minute. The Jags got two chances but none of them landed on net.
That would be just about the extent of the offense CU allowed from the Jaguars in the first 45 minutes.
CU controlled possession over the next 25 minutes and almost got on the board in the 14th minute. Haileigh Adams made a long run down the far sideline playing a cross into the box. The pass hit off the crossbar and popped right out to Tessa Barton who headed it back over the net.
The combination of Barton and Geraghty provided another chance for the Buffs in the 28th minute, but neither shot got through the South Alabama defense.
"I think they were very compact," junior Kayleigh Webb explained. "We weren't able to get into the spaces. I think we struggled a lot moving to get the ball forward. I think we played fine in the back possessing the ball, but once it hit the attacking third it was hard for us to get through the lines. If we did, we could have been able to get the goal, but we didn't. It is how it ends up. That is why you always have a next year."
The Buffs continued to push right out of halftime, earning a corner kick in the 47th minute. Hopcroft fed Hannah Sharts for a header and the ball bounced to Barton who tried unsuccessfully to bang it in.
Sharts was forced out of the game with an injury in the 51st minute, leaving a gap in the Colorado backline. South Alabama used that to its advantage. The Jaguars got their goal seven minutes later, playing rebound off a free kick in towards the far post and past Hansen.
"She is a leader in the back for us but having said that I think at the beginning of the second half we were slow," Sanchez continued. "They were putting some pressure on us. We were glad to get her back in the match, but I felt the players that went in for her did fine. We just didn't have enough quality when we won the ball."
The chances kept coming for CU after falling behind, with the Buffs outshooting South Alabama 10-3 in the final 30 minutes.
Hopcroft picked up four of those chances for CU, with the best opportunity coming in the closing seconds of the match. Colorado drew a foul just off the near side of the penalty box. Hopcroft put the free-kick up and over the South Alabama wall and beat goa keeper Allison Luckhardt, but the shot rang off the crossbar and popped over the net, closing out CU's hopes of forcing overtime.
BY THE NUMBERS
NOTES: CU falls to 10-12-1 all-time in the NCAA Tournament…it's the first time CU hasn't advanced out of the first round since 2008…James finishes the season as the team's top scorer with 11 points (5 G, 1 A)…Geraghty played had two shots in her final game (retiring due to injury)…Hopcroft led the team with four shots… Hansen finishes the season with 92 saves and a .876 save percentage…Friday was also the final career game for senior Katie Joella.