Given it is just five games into the soccer season, it remains far too early for the Colorado Buffaloes to hit the panic button.
Nonetheless, an alarming trend has cropped up for the Buffs over the past three games, and it is the same issue that contributed heavily to the 10-game winless streak that ended a disappointing 2015 season.
The Buffs are creating more than enough chances. They just aren't converting them into goals.
Despite a sizeable advantage in overall shots as well as shots on goal, Colorado suffered its third consecutive loss on Thursday afternoon, dropping a 2-1 overtime decision against Michigan State at Prentup Field.
The Spartans' Lexy Warner recorded the game-winning goal just 1 minute, 30 seconds into the extra session off a corner kick.
"Eventually they just go in, but at the same token we have to look at the players," CU head coach Danny Sanchez said. "We're five games into the season, and some players are producing and some aren't. We'll watch the video and we'll reevaluate what we're doing.
"At the end of it, if we're getting run off the park, then I'm really panicking. I think this was a game where we were taking it to them the majority of the game. But you don't get points for that. We have to be better in the final third, and we have to be cleaner in the back. It's as simple as it sounds."
In the first half alone, the Buffs produced five shots on goal and four corner kicks, while Michigan State had none in both categories. CU finished with eight shots on goal against just three for the Spartans, yet Michigan State was able to convert two of those chances into scores. Last week, the Buffs managed 12 shots on goal in road losses against Kansas and Missouri but posted just one goal.
CU finished with an overall shot advantage of 20-9 over Michigan State.
"I think we're just our own enemy right now," sophomore defender Alex Vidger said. "We've got to stop making silly mistakes and just work together as a team. We can't be dwelling on our past games. We've got to focus on the future if we're going to do better."
After a scoreless tie at halftime, the Spartans struck first in the 53rd minute when CU freshman Taylor Kornieck was called for a foul in the penalty box, resulting in a penalty-kick conversion by the Spartans' Marisa Oleksiak.
Vidger pulled CU even with her second goal of the season in the 75th minute, and the 1-1 score held through the end of regulation.
It was a defensive miscue that began the Buffs' demise, as a turnover near midfield led to a Michigan State breakaway in the early moments of overtime. Vidger helped prevent an easy goal, but the ensuing corner kick found its way to Warner camped ahead of the back post. Her shot glanced off CU midfielder Morgan Stanton on the goal line before settling in the net.
The Buffs will attempt to break their three-game losing streak on Sunday when they host Drexel at noon. CU has lost all three of those games by one goal, with the past two occurring in overtime.
"We definitely need the win on (Sunday)," junior defender Joss Orejel said. "That for sure would help with our confidence to prove to ourselves that we are good. Because people tell us that we are, but it seems like we don't think we are."
Michigan State 2, Colorado 1 (OT)
At Prentup FieldMichigan State (2-1-1) 0 1 1 — 2
Colorado (2-3-0) 0 1 0 — 1
Goals (assists) — Michigan State: Oleksiak (PK), 53rd minute; CU: Vidger (Evans, Kornieck), 75th minute; Michigan State: Warner (Cheslik, Jones), 92nd minute.
Goalies (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — Michigan State: Collin (92-1-6); CU: Tompkins (92-2-1).