Cal State-Northridge at No. 21 Colorado soccer
WHEN: Saturday, 1 p.m., Prentup Field.
RECORDS: Cal State-Northridge 2-0-2; CU 3-0-1.
BROADCAST: Live stream available at Pac-12 Plus.
LEADERS: Cal State-Northridge — Goals: Marissa Favela, 3; Assists: Sylvia Trinh, 2; Goalie: Jovanni McCaskill, 0.67 goals-against average, .769 save percentage. CU — Goals: Marty Puketapu, 3; Assists: Becca Rasmussen and Joss Orejel, 2; Goalie: Jalen Tompkins and Scout Watson, 0.00 goals-against average, 1.000 save percentage.
Notable: Cal State-Northridge hosts Fresno State on Thursday night before traveling to Colorado...The Buffs have never played the Matadors...CU completes a five-game homestand on Monday against BYU (1 p.m.)...A fifth consecutive shutout by the Buffs would give CU the second-longest shutout streak (in minutes) in the program's history.
Colorado soccer coach Danny Sanchez has leaned heavily on a veteran lineup through the Buffaloes' unbeaten start.
Even with a few new faces at the top of the offensive attack, those players generally arrived at CU with lengthy resumes. That group includes senior Becca Rasmussen, who played in 52 games over three seasons with Georgia before transferring, and Marty Puketapu, a freshman who soon will be 20-years old and has logged a wealth of national team experience in her native New Zealand.
The exception to the Buffs' experienced lineup lines up in the middle of a defense that has yet to allow a goal through four games. Freshman Hannah Cardenas is the newcomer among the veteran CU defenders, yet she is every bit as eager to maintain a season-opening scoreless streak that has reached 391 minutes, 13 seconds heading into a Saturday afternoon home match against Cal State-Northridge.
"Before every game we get together and we say, 'No goals.' That's our team thing," Cardenas said. "It's been really great fitting in. It was a little bit of a struggle at first getting used to how everybody moves and the pace and everything. But now as the games go on you get more familiarized with how everyone plays, how everyone moves. It kind of just clicks as you go and it's getting a lot better now."
As the only freshman who has started all four games (freshman forward Libby Geraghty started the opener but suffered a season-ending injury), Cardenas has had the luxury of leaning somewhat on her more experienced teammates as she grows acclimated to the college game. Senior Joss Orejel is scheduled to appear in her 40th career game Saturday. Junior Erin Greening started all 22 games at outside back last year. And even the relative newcomer, sophomore Kelsey Aaknes, started 17 games a year ago as a freshman.
Cardenas, from Placentia, Calif., might have only four collegiate games to her credit, but Sanchez believes her club experience with Slammers FC, one of the premier programs in Southern California, prepared Cardenas to step in immediately at the Division I level.
"When you recruit a player, you hope they develop and continue to get better because we have to recruit so early," Sanchez said. "We noticed as we were watching Hannah over the last few years that she was continuing to get better and was having more of an impact playing on one of the top club teams in the country, playing against the best players in the country.
"In the preseason she was fit, she was quick, she was strong on the tackle. She earned the right to get a starting spot. She has to fight for that every week, but so far she's done well. There's a lot bigger challenges ahead, starting this weekend."
Cardenas and the Buffs' stingy defense may prove even more critical Saturday against a Cal State-Northridge program that allowed only nine goals last season while posting an 11-5-5 mark. Dating back to last season, the Buffs' scoreless streak stands at 407:58 — the fifth-longest shutout streak in the program's history.
"Northridge, they just don't give up goals," Sanchez said. "We'll have to take advantage of being at home. If we find a goal I think the game will open up. But I think it will be a huge challenge for us."