In 2010 the University of Colorado soccer team met Washington State for the first time in program history.
The Buffaloes escaped with a win in the waning seconds and joined Washington State in the Pac-12 Conference one year later. Since then, CU has been completely dominated by the Cougars.
On Friday night the Buffs open league play with a stern challenge at Washington State, where they will try to end a five-game losing streak against the Cougars during which the Buffs have been outscored a whopping 13-1.
"We haven't beaten them since we've been in the Pac-12," head coach Danny Sanchez said. "I think we have to go there with the mentality that we're showing them respect, but also we have to play to our strengths. We're excited to test ourselves against a good team on the road."
Friday night's match marks CU's first opportunity to start making amends for the disastrous 1-8-2 record and last-place finish in the Pac-12 last year. The Buffs scored more than two goals only once in 11 league games in 2015 and tallied just nine league goals overall with five shutout losses — including a 3-0 defeat at home against Washington State.
However, CU appears to be a deeper and more balanced squad than the one that struggled through the Pac-12 slate a year ago. Sitting at 6-3 and the owners of a four-game win streak, the Buffs already are within five goals of their entire 2015 total.
"I just think in terms of the camaraderie and the general feeling of the team, we're a lot more positive going into the Pac-12 season this year," senior defender Kahlia Hogg said. "We're playing better. We've had some big wins the past couple weekends. The win (last week) against DU really just boosted the morale of the team, so really we're just looking to build off that."
While Sanchez doesn't expect the Buffs to be able to score within the league at the pace that has produced 13 goals during the four-game win streak, he believes Friday's match could be a wide-open affair.
Washington State remains unranked but garnered votes in this week's top 25 after a 5-2-1 start. The Cougars have scored 14 goals but 10 of those have been the work of two players, freshman Morgan Weaver and sophomore Alysha Overland. Weaver's six goals are tied for the most among Pac-12 players.
The match also begins a league-opening stretch of three road games for the Buffs. In the season's first RPI released this week the Buffs checked in at No. 46, with Washington State just ahead of them at No. 45. Escaping WSU with a result would provide a solid opening nudge toward CU's goal of returning to NCAA tournament contention.
"They going into every ball and they never stop, so I think that's something we need to do — we can't let up on the play and we have to keep going," senior Mikaela Kraus said. "Then also, we have to play to our strength in getting the ball wide and getting the ball to get areas so we can cross it and finish it."