After a frustrating October in which the Colorado women's soccer team went winless, the Buffs were hoping for better things as the calendar flipped over to November, particularly in the Buffs' home finale and on senior day Sunday.
Alas, the start of November looked similar to October, which wasn't a good thing in CU's case.
Arizona State scored the first two goals of the game, then held on for a 2-1 victory Sunday afternoon at Prentup Field.
The loss kept Colorado winless since Sept. 27, having gone 0-7-2 since then.
"It's really frustrating," said defender Heather Ward, a senior from Littleton who scored CU's lone goal on Sunday. "We've dropped a couple of games that we worked hard for and things didn't fall our way."
After two straight seasons of the Buffs advancing to the NCAA tournament, Friday's Pac-12 finale at Utah will also be the season-ender for CU, which stands 7-9-3 overall. At 1-7-2 in conference action, the Buffs are in last place in the Pac-12 with one game left.
"The last couple of years we didn't give up a lot of goals," CU coach Danny Sanchez noted. "That's not just the goalkeeper — it's the same goalkeeper as last year (senior Kate Scheele) — and it's not just the backs. It's all over the field. We also kept ourselves in the game where if we got a goal, we were probably going to win. Whereas this year it seems like almost every game we're chasing. We're always giving ourselves a chance but it's tough to play from behind all the time. We've dug ourselves holes, and in this league it's tough to come back."
Indeed, that was the case on Sunday, which marked CU's fourth one-goal loss since the beginning of October. The Buffs found themselves behind less than seven minutes into the game as ASU's Jessica Raybe took a pass left of the goal from fellow sophomore Aly Moon, then turned to shake a defender and beat Scheele near post to put the Sun Devils up 1-0.
And shortly after CU junior Brie Hooks narrowly missed tying the game as her shot bounced off the crossbar early in the second half, ASU struck again. Scheele made one of her career-high nine saves, but the ball stayed alive, with Moon sending a short cross to the goal mouth and senior McKenzie Berryhill putting it in to make it 2-0 with about 32 minutes remaining.
"Being a goalkeeper especially, you have the weight of the goals and the team on your shoulders," said Scheele, one of seven CU seniors honored before their final game at Prentup. "Feeling that dread that you just got scored on is hard."
The Buffs crept back within one off a free kick by Alex Huynh that found Ward in front of a crowded ASU net. Ward's tally, just the third of her career as a defensive player, made it 2-1 with 16:19 left.
"I don't get many opportunities to score," Ward said. "Going out with that, it's definitely a high note for me personally."
But despite some decent opportunities down the stretch, CU couldn't come up with the equalizer.
"(It's) maybe a little like the season — not quite enough at the end of the day," Sanchez said.
Overall, Ward called the senior day loss, "definitely a bittersweet, emotional time for all of us."
With the seniors being honored Sunday, two of them made the first starts of their CU careers: Fairview High School graduate Nikki Machalek and Ashley Love from Walnut Creek, Calif.
Arizona State 2, CU 1
At Prentup FieldArizona St. (8-8-1, 4-5-1) 1 1 — 2 CU (7-9-3, 1-7-2) 0 1 — 1
Goals (assists) — ASU: Jessica Raybe (Aly Moon), 7th; McKenzie Berryhill (Moon), 59th; CU: Heather Ward (Alex Huynh), 74th.
Goalies (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — ASU: Chandler Morris (90-1-4); CU: Kate Scheele (90-2-9).