Senior Celebration Set for Final
BOULDER – Colorado will hope to send the team's seven seniors off on a high note on Friday. The Buffaloes' season will come to a conclusion, hosting Utah at Prentup Field (3 p.m. Pac-12 Networks).
The team will honor all seven departing seniors in a pregame ceremony. The Senior Day festivities are set to at 2:43 p.m. The group of honorees includes Kayleigh Webb, Civana Kuhlmann, Hannah Cardenas, Allie Palangi, Alyssa Duke, Hannah Sharts and Dani Hansen.
"It's a unique group like we've talked about," head coach Danny Sanchez commented. "We have seven seniors with players like Hannah Sharts, Hannah Cardenas and Civana Kuhlmann who are actually in their sixth year of college. It's just unique with injuries, redshirting and COVID. Dani Hansen and Kayleigh Webb are both in their fifth year and then the two traditional kinds of four-year seniors [Allie Palangi and Alyssa Duke] and they are all fantastic young women.
"They are leaders not only within the team with the three captains but in the department if you look at what Hannah Sharts was able to do with the Soccer Ball. Civana has been able to resurrect her career and she'll be playing professionally here soon. Alyssa already graduated from the Leeds School of Business and will have her MBA in May. Allie plans to continue playing somewhere next year that has a nursing program. Dani will be off the flight school. We have successful young women that are great representatives of the department and the program."
Webb, a San Marcos, Calif., native, has enjoyed the best season of her career in 2022, totaling career-highs in goals (6), assists (3) and points (15). She is tied for the eighth-longest active consecutive starts streak in the NCAA, making her 98th straight start on Friday. She has started and played in every match since coming to Boulder, setting a new record for games played by a Buff. She was voted a captain this season by her teammates and has helped lead this program on and off the field.
"I've had a really good time here," Webb expressed. "I'm thankful that I got this year and glad that I took the opportunity. It's been really fun to have this whole extra year to have fun and play soccer. I don't know what I'm going to do after so it was good to just get more time to kick some balls around and go for goal."
Kuhlmann, a Centennial, Colo., native, transferred in for the season after becoming a two-time National Champion and a three-time Pac-12 Champion at Stanford. She burst onto the scene as a Buff with a career-high 11 goals this season. She currently ranks 15th in the NCAA with a career-high 28 points.
"I've been thinking about how ironic it is that my college career was so long," Kuhlmann said. "I was a freshman in 2017 which is crazy. Yet my time at CU was so short, I feel like it defines so much of my college career. This past season has just meant a lot to me and my family. It just allowed us to do something we didn't have before. To have the support week in and week out really meant a lot to us."
Cardenas, a Placentia, Calif., native, has had a rollercoaster of a career, overcoming four knee surgeries in her tenure. She began her career back in 2017, starting all 22 matches as a freshman. She missed a majority of the 2018 and 2020 seasons and the entire 2021 season. This season, she's started 14 and played in 18 matches. She's a three-time Pac-12 Academic Honor Roll selection and the 2019 winner of CU's Herbst Academic Award.
"Obviously, I've had an up and down experience," Cardenas recalled. "It hasn't been a practical soccer journey. I had a lot of injuries so being able to spend six years here and have the coaches and people support and encourage me just means the world to me. I don't think people realize how much time and effort has been put in for me to be here. A lot of people and schools probably would have turned me away and stopped me from doing what I wanted to do. But everyone here has just constantly been 100% on my side. It just means the world to me and I'm very thankful for it."
Palangi, a native of Pismo Beach, Calif., traveled with the team to France before the start of her first season and made her collegiate debut late in 2019 against Oregon after missing the first part of the season with an injury. She played in 14 matches in 2020 and recorded her first career point, assisting on the game-winning goal against Weber State. Last season she started 11 matches and scored her first career goal against No. 1 Florida State. This season she has played in 16 matches and had a career-high six shots against Omaha.
"Obviously I was very lucky to go to France and I think it set me up to have a great experience here," Palangi expressed. "It just kind of lasted throughout the four years. There's been some up and down with injuries and everything but I've really enjoyed my four years. I think that Colorado is a beautiful place to be and a great program. The people that I've surrounded myself with in the past four years have made it extremely special and I think I've ground a lot and I'm thankful."
Duke, a native of Upland, Calif., is closing out a four-year career in which she will have collected both her bachelor's and master's degrees. She's a two-time Pac-12 Academic Honor Roll selection. Duke has played in 47 games and started five on the backline. She scored her first career goal, the game-winner, against Arizona State in 2020. This season she has a goal against San Diego and picked up an assist against Denver.
"Growing up I would go to the USC and UCLA games and I always dreamed of playing in the Pac-12," Duke added. "To come to CU and play Pac-12 Division I soccer was a dream come true. It's really allowed me to continue to grow as a soccer player and play at the highest level in college as well as continue my education. I feel like I really made the most of my time here at CU and I'm really grateful for what's been a dream come true."
Sharts came to CU in 2019 after spending two seasons at UCLA. The Newbury Park, Calif., native, became the first CU soccer player to earn CoSIDA Academic All-American honors in 2020 and has a pair of degrees to her name. A three-year captain, she was the team's defensive MVP in 2021. She's a two-time First Team All-Pac12 selection and has played in all 77 matches over the last four seasons. She's been a big presence on CU's set pieces over the years, totaling nine goals as a target in the box.
"These past four years mean everything to me," Sharts explained. "I think I definitely made the most of my college experience here and learned every ounce of Boulder. I took it in with my whole heart and it's a second home to me forever now."
Hansen, a native of Broomfield, Colo., returned to Colorado after spending two seasons at Washington. She twice made a career-high 11 saves in 2020 and was 5th in the NCAA with a Pac-12-best 92 saves that same season. A three-time Pac-12 Goalkeeper of the Week, she has helped the Buffaloes to 21 wins. Hansen has posted 12 solo shutouts as a Buff and has made 204 career saves.
"I love being home," Hansen said. "I wouldn't have decided to come back to Colorado if it didn't mean something to me. Being able to end in front of my family is huge and being a Buff is super important to me. Ending this journey with this group of seniors is amazing."
Fans through the gates on Friday will receive a voucher for a Chip bobblehead doll. The voucher can be exchanged upon exit of the game.