This wasn't the way the University of Colorado soccer team wanted to end the regular season.
But, as is the case with ties, it wasn't all that bad either.
The No. 22-ranked Buffs settled for their only tie in the finale of what has been a remarkable turnaround season this fall, recording a 1-1 decision against No. 23 Utah Friday at Prentup Field that ended any chance of CU battling into a share of the Pac-12 Conference crown.
Regardless of the result, the Buffs have a decent chance of playing again at Prentup next week as a host site in the NCAA Tournament. CU will learn its postseason opponent and destination Monday.
"We're pleased with what we've done," CU head coach Danny Sanchez said. "Great spirit. Great fight. Playing with confidence. I'm pleased with where we're at for sure."
Sanchez was proud to point out the Buffs "went out with a whimper" in the finale against Utah last year, a 2-0 loss that capped a last-place finish in the Pac-12 that was perhaps even more stunning than this season's abrupt turnaround. The Buffs finished 14-4-1 overall, doubling their win total from a year ago, and posted an 8-2-1 mark in the league — their best record in six seasons in the Pac-12. And even on Friday, the final seconds ticked away with CU valiantly trying to convert the winning goal as the ball bantered in front of the Utah goal.
"All season long our motto has been 'stronger together,'" said Danica Evans, one of six CU seniors honored Friday before their final regular season home game. "If we work to the 110th minute in games, it just shows we're willing to do the work for each other. Our team has a lot to go, so we're ready for the tournament."
After a scoreless first half, Evans put the Buffs on the board in the 63rd minute off an assist from Joss Orejel. It was the 10th goal of the season for Evans, putting her into elite territory among the Buffs' all-time goal scorers.
The 10-goal mark has been reached just five times in the program's 20-year history, a club that includes current volunteer assistant Nikki Marshall (17 in 2006), Katie Griffin (12 in 2005 and 10 in 2003), and Ashlie Mihalcin (10 in 2004). It also includes the 11 goals scored this season by freshman Taylor Kornieck, giving the Buffs two 10-goal scorers in the same season for the first time.
Evans also moved into a tie for ninth among CU's career goals leaders with 15, a total she has produced in just two seasons after transferring from Portland.
"(Evans) has been playing with great confidence," Sanchez said. "Her work rate is excellent. She's creating and she's scoring goals. She's in great form, and we'll need her next weekend."
Utah drew even when the Pac-12's leading goal scorer, Hailey Skolmoski, notched her 13th of the season in the 79th minute. CU's best chance in the extra sessions occurred late in the first overtime, but Emily Bruder's shot was stopped on a diving save by Utes goalie July Mathias.
No. 22 Colorado 1, No. 23 Utah 1
At Prentup FieldUtah (11-3-5, 6-1-4) 0 1 0 0 — 1 Colorado (14-5-1, 8-2-1) 0 1 0 0 — 1
Goals (assists) — Colorado: Evans (Orejel), 63rd minute; Utah: Skolmoski (Slattery, Daugirda), 79th minute.
Goalies (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — Utah: Mathias (110-1-7); Colorado: Tompkins (110-1-6).