Emily Bruder has enjoyed success and has even earned all-league accolades for perhaps the most esteemed women's soccer program in the nation.
Yet with the clock winding down on her collegiate career, Bruder began to realize she wanted a more complete experience for her final season. And so Bruder opted to roll the dice, leaving her spot with the North Carolina Tar Heels to join the Colorado Buffaloes.
While she has yet to find the back of the net through her first two games with the Buffs, Bruder already has asserted herself as a formidable weapon at the top of CU's attack. That first goal of 2016 could arrive this weekend, as the Buffs hit the road to take on two former Big 12 Conference rivals. CU faces Kansas on Friday before visiting Missouri on Sunday.
"I definitely wanted to go out with a bang for my last (season) and I definitely wanted to play a lot of soccer," Bruder said. "School is very important to me and I have goals to be an occupational therapist. Soccer-wise, if I want to go pro I have that option. Coming here is closer to home. My family can come out to my games and I think it's going to be a great year. We have a great team and I'm excited to see what we can do."
In order to make a seamless transition to CU, Bruder needed to complete some academic requirements during the spring and into summer. The native of Sandy, Utah, didn't arrive in Boulder until July, but she already has meshed well with her teammates. Through two games, Bruder trails only teammate Danica Evans with eight shot attempts, and none of CU's offensive players combine the sort of speed and strength exhibited by Bruder.
After appearing in 13 games for North Carolina as a freshman in 2013, Bruder enjoyed a breakout year with the Tar Heels as a sophomore, recording five goals and two assists while earning third team All-Atlantic Coast Conference honors. Relegated to a reserve role last year, Bruder finished with two goals and one assist before deciding to head west.
"She really wanted to be here. She had a lot of academic work to take care of at North Carolina to make that happen, and she really buckled down to make that happen in the summer," CU head coach Danny Sanchez said. "She only got here a few days before the preseason, but I've been really impressed with how she's acclimated herself with the team. You can't tell if she's been here a month or if she's been her for four years."
Sanchez expects his Buffs to experience a more thorough test this weekend than they did during last weekend's opening wins against Air Force and Colorado State. Both teams narrowly missed the NCAA Tournament field a year ago, with Kansas reaching the Big 12 championship game and Missouri finishing second in the regular season in the Southeastern Conference.
Both squads enter the weekend with 1-1 marks.
"I think big the challenge is playing under the lights, traveling to two Power 5, very good programs," Sanchez said. "They both missed the NCAA Tournament last year, but they both probably were one of the last teams out. I think the speed of play, the athleticism, will be different than what we saw (last) weekend."