Like last year, the Colorado women's soccer team will have to knock off one of the top teams in the country in order to reach the Sweet 16 for the third time in the program's history.
After rallying to defeat the University of Denver 2-1 in a first-round matchup Sunday afternoon at Prentup Field, the Buffaloes will travel to North Carolina to take on the Tar Heels in the second round. North Carolina is one of the four No. 1 seeds in the tournament, and it is reminiscent of last season when the Buffs went on the road to face a top-seeded South Carolina squad in last year's second round.
The Buffs and Tar Heels will kick off at 3 p.m. MST on Friday afternoon.
"I'm excited for the opportunity that we get," CU junior Megan Massey said. "They just won the ACC championship, which is awesome, but I think we can go out there and give them a hard time and hopefully get a really great result on the road."
The Tar Heels own a 16-2-2 record and posted a 3-0 win against High Point on Saturday in their first-round match. The Buffs are 0-4 all-time against North Carolina and have been outscored 12-0 in those contests, including a 1-0 loss in the second round of the 2014 NCAA Tournament.
"Any chance for us to get a chance to play a team from the east coast is a big opportunity," CU sophomore Taylor Kornieck said.
Senior midfielder Becca Rasmussen missed her second consecutive match due to an injury on Sunday. The team leader with seven assists, CU coach Danny Sanchez is optimistic Rasmussen will be available when his club visits North Carolina.
"Obviously we want to be full strength," Sanchez said. "I think Becca's very close and we're hoping to get her back."
Freshman Marty Puketapu returned to the lineup after missing last week's regular season finale at Utah due to an illness. Junior Erin Greening also played off the bench Sunday after being forced out of the Utah game due to an injury.
DU's tourney return
While Sunday's match marked the Buffaloes' fourth NCAA Tournament appearance in five seasons, it was the first appearance for DU since CU eliminated the Pioneers in the first round of the 2013 tournament. The two programs easily are the top two collegiate programs in Colorado, and the four-year absence for the Pioneers was the longest tourney drought for head coach Jeff Hooker's program since DU made its first appearance in 2001.
"You get spoiled when it's taken away from you," said Hooker, who completed his 26th season as DU's leader. "I think the seniors did a really good job of leading, starting in the summer and throughout the course of the fall season. We had two bad defeats. One was the Santa Barbara game when we lost a couple players and the other was the CU game (A 6-1 Buffaloes win on Sept. 16). They really did a good job of staying the course and I was really happy for that senior class to get to the NCAA Tournament and compete like they did today."
While goalie Jalen Tompkins saw her individual team-record shutout streak end at 536 minutes, 3 seconds, Kornieck and Puketapu continued climbing some of CU's all-time lists.
With a goal and an assist, Kornieck increased her career point total to 44, moving into a tie for seventh-place all time with Jen Thais. Kornieck's goal was the 18th of her career, giving her sole possession of seventh-place all-time. Puketapu earned an assist on CU's go-ahead goal, giving the rookie from New Zealand 18 points on the season. That mark ties Brie Hooks' 2013 total for the fifth-best ever among CU freshmen.
Sunday's attendance of 1,342 was the second-largest at Prentup this season, trailing only the 1,414 at the Arizona match on Oct. 22...The Buffs improved to 14-8-1 all-time against DU and have posted six consecutive victories against their local rival.