Buffs Host No. 1 UCLA
BOULDER – It's crunch time for Colorado soccer.
The Buffaloes (8-4-3, 2-3-1 Pac-12) have three home matches remaining in the 2022 season, starting on Thursday with No. 1 UCLA (3 p.m. MT).
Colorado is coming off a disappointing loss at Arizona, where the team failed to score for the first time all season. The dropped contest left the Buffs with seven points in the Pac-12 standings and looking to gain ground.
"When we talk about the Pac-12, we've talked about how there's a lot of opportunities," head coach Danny Sanchez explained. "That's what we have coming up this weekend. We know how good UCLA is – the No. 1 team in the country. It's a great opportunity at home."
CU has never beaten a No. 1 ranked team in the team's 27-year history. The Buffs are 0-9-0 all-time against top-ranked opponents. Colorado has a recent history with No. 1 opponents, having hosted No. 1 Florida State last season. The Seminoles got out to a 2-0 second-half lead, but Allie Palangi found the net in the last third of the match, forcing FSU to fend off a Buffs' comeback.
"We look at every conference game as an NCAA Tournament game and tomorrow is no different," Sanchez added. "Obviously, UCLA has had a great season and is deserving of the ranking with what they've done both in and out of the conference. It is a little different [than FSU] in the sense that we have a hard time getting top teams to come here for non-conference. Pac-12 teams don't have a choice. I think that the motivation, the attention to detail and the focus will be similar to what it was last year."
UCLA (13-1-0, 5-1-0 Pac-12) is coming off its first setback of the season, dropping its match last week to then No. 9 Stanford, 1-0. The Bruins held onto the top ranking despite the loss, marking the seventh consecutive week they have occupied the top spot. The Bruins lead the Pac-12 in goals (40) and points (116) this season and continued to be backed by goalkeeper Lauren Brzykcy.
"They went on the road and beat Duke and North Carolina," Sanchez noted. "They slipped up against Stanford on the road for its only loss. It's a very good team. Having said that, we've been very good at home. We're excited about this opportunity."
CU's previous ranked matchups this season have all resulted in draws. CU went into No. 9 BYU and earned a 2-2 tie. The Buffs also tied on the road against No. 15 Washington State.
"The longer the game goes, the better it will be for us," Sanchez mentioned. "I think that's just common sense for any team when you play a highly ranked team. We have to come out and play with confidence. We've talked a lot about that this week. Sometimes when you play a highly-ranked team, there's almost less pressure. Every little thing you do well, you feel good about it. We have to play well if we hope to get a result."
Thursday's match will be streamed on CUBuffs.com/WatchSoc. It's the team's annual Kick Out Cancer match. The Buffs will be sport pink accessories.
The first 500 fans through the gates will also get a voucher for free In-Out at the game.