Goalkeeper remains a position of strength for the Colorado women's soccer team, with record-setting fourth-year junior JJ Tompkins taking aim at another stellar season and fifth-year senior Scout Watson serving as a reliable backup who would start on a majority of other teams.
However, even with Tompkins eligible through the 2019 season, goalkeeper suddenly has become a huge priority on the recruiting trail for head coach Danny Sanchez.
With the Buffaloes beginning preseason workouts this week, Sanchez announced that No. 3 goalie Caitlin McPherson has been forced to leave the program due to an undisclosed medical issue. A graduate of Cherry Creek High School in Greenwood Village, McPherson redshirted last year as a true freshman and was the only other goalkeeper on CU's roster after Tompkins and Watson.
Sanchez said McPherson is expected to remain in school at CU.
While Tompkins should hold the starting job through 2019, the early recruiting cycle in women's soccer likely will leave Sanchez and his staff scrambling for reinforcements for the 2019 roster. Among the five new freshmen on the 2018 roster, none are goalies.
"We have to recruit so early, there's not a lot of options at this point," Sanchez said. "But we got the word out that we're in need of a goalie and we're still hunting. We'll see how it plays out. For sure, we'll have to bring in one or even two goalies next year."
Tompkins set CU single-season records last year for save percentage (.882) and goals-against average (0.58) while helping to lead the Buffs to a team-record 14 shutouts. For her career, Tompkins has posted a 25-11-4 record with a save percentage of .867 and a goals-against average of 0.71. She is on pace to leave CU as the program's all-time leader in both categories, and she also is well within reach of Jessica Keller's career record of 37 wins.
With Tompkins ahead of her, Watson has not enjoyed much playing time, yet she was respected enough by her teammates to be voted a co-captain last season. In eight appearances last year, Watson recorded a save percentage of .786.
The loss of McPherson leaves the Buffs without a third goalie this fall, a situation Sanchez said will be addressed during the preseason in case either Tompkins or Watson become injured.
"We haven't gotten there yet," Sanchez said. "Hopefully that doesn't become an issue, but it's something we'll certainly discuss."