Colorado Falls to Washington State
BOULDER—The Colorado Buffaloes played a tight first half, but it was the Washington State Cougars that broke free in the second half at Prentup Field on Sunday. WSU scored two goals in the final 45 minutes to net its seventh consecutive win, 2-0.
The two sides played a scoreless first half. The Buffs had a 6-4 advantage in corner kicks through the first period but couldn't get their set-piece magic to work.
WSU (9-1-1, 3-0-0 Pac-12) got the opening goal in the 58th minute from Elyse Bennett and a second tally from Alyssa Gray to notch WSU's third straight win over the Buffs. WSU keeper Nadia Cooper made three saves in the first half to keep the game even. She finished with five saves on the afternoon.
"I thought we played well in the first half," head coach Danny Sanchez said after the loss. "It's just disappointing to give up that first goal that really came from nothing. Having said that, it was still a game that we could get something out of. Obviously, the second goal was a backbreaker, but over the 90 minutes we didn't do enough to deserve a result."
Colorado (6-4-2, 1-1-1 Pac-12) was led by Shyra James and her four shots. Kayleigh Webb accounted for two of CU's five shots on net. Dani Hansen made six saves on WSU's eight shots on net.
How It Happened
WSU got the game's first shot in the game's 2nd minute, but it was CU that had the first real scoring opportunity. Hopcroft served a ball into a dangerous spot in the box, meeting James for a header. Cooper was right on top of James forcing the header chance to deflect wide of the target.
Just a minute later Webb was denied by a leaping Cooper, making a one-handed save and forcing the ball over the top left corner. Cooper's acrobatics continued in the 29th minute with another diving stop. This time she dove to her left and wrapped herself around the side post, knocking a chance from Gabbi Chapa high over the crossbar.
"I thought we were playing pretty well before the [WSU] goal," Sanchez added. "We were creating chances, winning corners, but not testing their keeper enough. Credit to Cooper. I thought she made two really good saves in the first half. That probably would have changed the game. In Pac-12 games, those are the little moments [you have to have]. We can't have defensive breakdowns like we did and expect to get results in the Pac-12."
Cooper got involved offensively for WSU as well. She outkicked the Buffs' defense, allowing Bennett to get behind the CU backline and make a free run from midfield. She chased the ball down and slotted it past Hansen from 12 yards out to pick up the game-winner.
"We talk about how you have to stay turned on all the time," Sanchez commented about the goal. "We didn't have numbers behind the ball and it's a goal you can't give up. It's a goal WSU is going to get. We talked about it and they still got it. It's on the coaches to get our team better prepared to deal with that situation, but having said that we still had plenty of soccer to go and we didn't do enough."
Controversy surrounded WSU's second goal in the 72nd minute. Hansen's goal kick was won by the Cougars and played back on the offense by Elaily Hernandez-Repreza. The ball looked to have been played well offside, but the flag never went up. Gray avoided the lone defender charging back and beat Hansen to the lower right corner.
The CU bench picked up a yellow card immediately following WSU's second goal. From there the game got a little chippy with WSU getting yellow cards of its own in the 72nd and 87th minute.
The Buffs are off to Los Angeles next week for a pair of matches. CU will take on No. 21 Sothern California on Thursday (5 p.m. MT) and No. 3 UCLA on Sunday (1 p.m. MT).
First time CU has been shutout at home since its 1-0 loss to No. 3 UCLA last season (Mar. 12, 2021)…The Buffs finished with seven corner attempts, matching their season-high…CU falls to 7-8-0 all-time against Washington State and 1-5-0 at home.