The late collapse was as thorough as it was unexpected, creating the sort of doldrums that sometimes can poison an entire program.
For University of Colorado soccer coach Danny Sanchez, the late slump that resulted in an 0-8-2 mark over the final 10 games of the 2015 season was by far the worst stretch of his tenure in Boulder. It often wasn't pretty, but the good news is that Sanchez believes his team turned the page even before the calendar turned to 2016.
On Wednesday, CU begins official preseason workouts for the 2016 campaign, and throughout the program for Buffaloes are looking to the promise of the near future instead of dwelling on last year's disappointment.
"To be honest, it's pretty much history," said Sanchez, set to begin his fifth season at CU. "When you take a step back, we didn't finish Pac-12 play the way we wanted, but it wasn't like we played horrible. We addressed a lot of things in the spring with returning players with areas we have to do better in.
"It's a fresh start, but it wouldn't have mattered if we won the Pac-12 last year. The year before we finished third and it didn't mean anything in '15. It's a fresh start, it's a fresh year, with a lot of new players."
With less than three weeks to go before the season-opener at Air Force on Aug. 19, here is a look at the most pressing questions the Buffs must address during the preseason.
Who will take over in goal?
Kate Scheele was a rock at the back of the defense during her two seasons at CU. Her graduation leaves a void that will be filled by either redshirt sophomore Scout Watson or redshirt freshman Jalen Tompkins.
Entering her third year in the program, Watson has the advantage of experience. She made four starts last year as an injury replacement for Scheele, but Sanchez expects an open-competition situation during the preseason that likely will lead to both players getting opportunities to start early in the regular season.
"They both did very well in the spring, and I'm going to guess that competition will carry into the season," Sanchez said. "Scout got a little bit of experience last year, so that was good for her. But they split time in the spring and (Tompkins) is also a very good goalkeeper. Unlike Kate last year, whose job it was to lose, this is 100 percent wide-open. We feel good about both of them."
How much will the freshmen contribute?
Sanchez welcomes to camp the most decorated and highly-touted batch of rookies he has brought to Boulder. Chief among them is 6-foot-1 midfielder Taylor Kornieck, a captain in the U.S. U-18 Women's National Team. The Nevada native scored 54 goals as a high school senior and amassed 84 goals and 37 assists in her prep career.
"Unlike some sports, we recruit players to come in and play," Sanchez said. "We really only have five or six starters returning, depending on you want to look at it, so there's lots of opportunities there. They've been here since July working out so they should be good to go come Wednesday. They're talented players who have bought in, but it is always kind of an unknown until you roll the ball out."
Who will score CU's goals?
The Buffs scored only 24 goals last season and managed just seven during the season-ending 10-game winless streak — with three of those goals occurring in one game. Co-leading goal scorer Brie Hooks opted to transfer to Seattle, and between graduations and transfers CU lost half of the team's slim 2015 goal total.
"Sometimes to put it on a player or two is asking a little much in conference play," Sanchez said. "I think Danica Evans will have a breakout year. She had a good year last year, but I think she can do a lot better and so does she."