Buffs Primed for Showdown at Air Force
BOULDER— Head coach Danny Sanchez and company will head to take on Air Force in exhibition play on Saturday (6 p.m. MT). The friendly isn't just any practice game though, the results will count towards the first leg of the 2021 Colorado Cup.
"We are excited to get going tomorrow and excited for the season," Sanchez commented. "We have a great group of young women who are ready to represent the university with another good season, hopefully, and NCAA Tournament bid and beyond."
The 2020* season featured a lot of highlights packed into the chaos of the truncated season. The Buffs finished tied for fifth in the Pac-12, beat three ranked opponents in the same season for the first time in program history and were one of five conference teams to earn bids to the slimed down 48-team NCAA Tournament.
CU's one-and-done in the tournament was not the result anybody was expecting, but luckily for the Buffs, the team didn't have long to think it over. CU's spring season wrapped up on April 27 and just 98 days later the team was back at Prentup Field starting 2021.
"I think one positive [of a short offseason] is that we didn't have time to get out of shape," senior Sofia Weiner explained. "We just kind of got right back into it. We had a bit of time apart to decompress, but the core group [from last season] is back and all together. It's just like a continuation, building off the energy that we had and the success that we had in the spring. I think it's a good segue into this fall."
One of the strongest parts of the 2021 Buffaloes figures to be the defensive unit. The Buffs return a large group of talent that was spread across the backline a season ago. Seniors Hannah Sharts, Haileigh Adams, Gabbi Chapa and Weiner all got minutes with CU's back four last season. Sophomore Jayden Newkirk started all but two matches in her freshman season. While Jade Babcock-Chi, Rachel Rosen and Lawson Willis shifted back and forth from the defense and midfield.
"We have a lot of very strong defensive players this year," Sharts pointed out. "We always pride ourselves on our defending and it is a strength of ours, but I think it's so valuable having players like Sophia [Weiner] and Gabbi [Chapa] back who are veterans. They know the ins and outs of the program and how we kind of teach defending and how we want to play. I'm excited to see how everything unfolds this season."
The Colorado Cup will feature three matches within the state this season for CU. The Buffs opponents are Air Force, Colorado State (Aug. 19) and Colorado College (Aug. 22). Unlike previous versions of the Cup, this year's fixture will be completed on Aug. 22 in Denver.
CU has won the cup five times since its inception in 2011. The Buffs' last Colorado Cup championship came back in 2016.
Saturday's match will not be live-streamed. Live stats are available at CUBuffs.com/SocStats.
Colorado will open the regular season on Aug. 19, hosting Colorado State (4 p.m. MT).