University of Colorado soccer coach Danny Sanchez has a direct and succinct explanation for why his Buffaloes should do everything possible to add the distinction of Colorado Cup champions to the team's 2016 resume.
The trophy is there for the taking. So why not take it?
The Buffs will need either a win or a draw against their longtime regional rivals from the University of Denver to claim statewide bragging rights in the team's final tune-up before Pac-12 Conference play. CU already has posted wins against Air Force and Colorado State and can complete a sweep of its state rivals with a fourth consecutive victory against the Pioneers on Saturday (Noon, Prentup Field).
"We always want to take care of business, but we want to take care of business in the state," Sanchez said. "There are a lot of very good, competitive Division I programs here so if you're going to play for a cup, let's go ahead and win it.
"I think CSU eventually will become a rival like it is in other sports, but right now Denver, historically for 20 years, has been the rival. For us, the Denver game is always going to be a huge game. I see all these college football games where they're playing for brown jugs and axes and all that kind of stuff. The cup is a soccer symbol. You play for trophies, and we want to hold on to the trophy."
After creating a commendable number of scoring chances that nonetheless largely fell short early in the season, the Buffs have recorded 12 goals during a three-game win streak after scoring just five during a 2-3 start.
Working offensive-minded newcomers like North Carolina transfer Emily Bruder and freshmen Taylor Kornieck and Camilla Shymka into the rotation may have contributed somewhat to the team's uneven start. However all three players have turned increased comfort into increased production of late, with all three contributing heavily during CU's three-game winning streak.
Kornieck has tallied four goals and assist during the run, with Bruder scoring twice in Sunday's win against Iowa and adding an assist in a key add-on goal by Danica Evans late in a win last week against Hawaii. Shymka scored her first career goal against Iowa as the Buffs have received goals from seven different players and assists from eight different players over the past three games.
"I honestly think it's been the energy and the attitude that we've brought into these (three) games," Bruder said. "We knew they were teams that were going to try challenging us and we had to come in with high intensity. We came into that on a (three-game) losing streak, and it kind of made us realize we had to pick it up and treat every practice like it's a game."
DU brings a 3-5 record to Prentup Field and is coming off a 2-0 loss against Hawaii. However, two weeks ago the Pioneers posted a 3-1 win on the road against an Arizona State squad picked two spots ahead of the Buffs in the Pac-12 preseason coaches poll.
"I think we have to keep positive and build on this momentum," sophomore midfielder Sarah Kinzner said. "We can't start off slow and make sure we bring the energy."