Early in Thursday's top-25 showdown against UCLA, Colorado Buffaloes forward Emily Bruder turned on a Bruins defender and launched a right-footed bomb toward the net.
The shot sailed well high and wide, resembling more of an audition for the uncertain placekicker situation with the football team than a shot on goal.
Given a similar opportunity early in the second half, Bruder didn't miss.
The senior's blast in the 50th minute was all the scoring CU needed to continue its winning ways, as the No. 22-ranked Buffs posted a thrilling 1-0 victory against No. 9 UCLA at Prentup Field. It was the 12th win in 13 games for the streaking Buffaloes, who will retain a share of the Pac-12 lead heading into Sunday's home date against No. 4 USC.
The Buffs entered Thursday's match in a three-way tie atop the league standings with Stanford and USC. That will be reduced to a two-way tie when USC visits on Sunday, as the Trojans settled for a draw at Utah Thursday night. Stanford kept pace with the Buffs by winning Thursday at Arizona.
"It definitely was good to get that turn and get that (early) shot off, even though I missed it," Bruder said. "It still was good because sometimes you need that warm-up shot. That was a good feeling when I scored. It was a good play by Danica (Evans) getting me the ball. I think we've been finding each other real well the last few games.
"Sometimes when it comes down to it, you have to get the one goal. And we did it."
While Bruder's fourth goal of the season provided the offense, CU's defense turned in a well-executed effort against the Bruins and their leading scorer, Jessie Fleming.
A freshman who is a national team player for Canada — that's the main national team, not the U-20 team — Fleming entered the match with 10 goals, a total that trailed only Utah's Hailey Skolmoski and CU freshman Taylor Kornieck among the Pac-12 league leaders.
Fleming managed just one shot on goal against the Buffs, thanks in large part to the second-half marking of CU midfielder Megan Massey. Massey also earned bragging rights against the Bruins' Gabbi Miranda, a former teammate at Mountain Vista High School in Highlands Ranch.
"It was challenging because we all knew she was really good in the air with the serves coming in," Massey said. "My biggest thing was just keeping her in front of me, not letting her turn. Making her go backward was a big thing and not letting her dribble at anyone down a line. I think we were really good defensively. We've been strong on the back line."
No CU victory would be complete without heroics from goalie Jalen Tompkins, and the redshirt freshman delivered once again. In the waning minutes Tompkins made a pair of stellar saves to preserve the tie while also surviving a UCLA shot that rattled off the crossbar.
It was the seventh solo shutout of the season for Tompkins. It also was the Buffs' first win against the Bruins since joining the Pac-12 in 2011. Evans' assist on Bruder's goal added to a scoring streak that has seen the senior record five goals and three assists over the past five games.
"I thought the first half we played well," head coach Danny Sanchez said. "I thought we had some good pressure, and in the second half I thought we started well. Obviously a great goal from Emily and a great hold-up play from Danica to find Emily. It was a true team win and I couldn't be more proud."
No. 22 Colorado 1, No. 9 UCLA 0
At Prentup FieldUCLA (12-4-1, 6-2-1) 0 0 — 0
Goals (assists) — CU: Bruder (Evans), 50th minute.
Goalies (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — UCLA: Micah (90-1-3); CU: Tompkins (90-0-4).