Depth Providing Early Options for Buffs
BOULDER—Colorado walked away with a 5-0 win to open the season against Weber State and there were plenty of positives to pick from at Prentup Field on Thursday.
Colorado had 25 players get in on the action, including all seven of the team's highly touted freshmen. Juliauna Hayward cracked the starting XI and the six got valuable minutes as subs throughout the second half.
Hayward and Emerson Layne both put the ball in the back of the net, recording their first career goals in their first career match. The duo became the first true freshmen pair to score in a season opener in CU history.
"I told the team that the first game without having an exhibition is always going to be a fistfight," head coach Danny Sanchez commented after the win. "I thought our depth took over and we played a lot of players. Everybody played good minutes and really contributed. I was pleased for it being the first game but we know that there are bigger challenges ahead."
The comfortable second-half lead allowed Sanchez to tweak his lineup at different points of the afternoon, putting the team's depth to test. Hayward, Layne, Leila Lister and Mallory Allen all played more than 35 minutes in the opener. Josie Master, Sophia Petrov and Coco Thistle all got an evaluation period in the second half.
"I think they [freshmen] are ready to play DI soccer," Sanchez added. "It's going to be a little bit of a fight for minutes as we get into the season, but we see that they are capable of helping us short and long term. We're excited about this group of newcomers and what they can bring. Short term, we talked a lot about delayed gratification. We have 10 seniors, so maybe their time isn't going to be all the time right now. But for the first game, I thought they all played well.
Hayward finished with three shots, while Layne added two. Lister also fired off a shot and was in the mix on Rachel Rosen's game-winning goal.
Colorado's opening weekend continues later on Saturday night with the first-ever Soccer Ball. The team will be back at Prentup Field on Sunday (1 p.m. MT) to host San Diego.
San Diego (0-1) gave up a goal in the 35th minute at Denver, falling to the Pioneers in Thursday's opener. The Toreros went 6-11-1 last season.
Sunday's game will have Thad Anderson on the call for the Pac-12 Network. It is also Chips' Kid's Club Day. There will be inflatables, face painting, yard games and a touch a truck as part of the day's festivities.