Streaking CU Buffs soccer looks to keep rolling against Washington

Autumn Parry / Daily Camera
Colorado’s Mikaela Kraus, left, has seen more playing time on defense with the injuries to seniors Joss Orejel and Kahlia Hogg.

The attention and accolades are growing every week for the streaking Colorado Buffaloes soccer team.

Complacency is not.

With nine consecutive wins to their credit and the first 5-0 start in league play in the program’s 20-year history, the Buffs received due recognition this week by joining the national top-25 coaches poll at No. 23 heading into Friday’s home tilt against Washington (3 p.m., Pac-12 Networks).

It is the first national ranking for CU in a little over seven years. Yet with the abrupt and drastic turnaround from last year’s frustrating 1-8-2 finish in the Pac-12 Conference still somewhat fresh, the Buffs (11-3, 5-0 Pac-12) are making certain they do not relent on the gas pedal as they brace for the toughest portion of their schedule.

“I think we still view ourselves as we still have a lot to prove,” head coach Danny Sanchez said. “Training the last couple days have been very good. There is an air of momentum around the program, which I think is positive.

“We don’t talk about (getting complacent). I don’t think that will be an issue. If we get a result, it’s because we’re playing well. If we don’t get a result, it’s because we didn’t play well. We look at every game like there’s an element of the underdog to us.”

CU’s nine-game winning streak is the second-longest in program history, trailing only the 11 consecutive wins posted by the club in 2003. While the Buffs have enjoyed a number of individual standout performances — freshman Taylor Kornieck’s league-leading 10 goals and school record five-game goal streak, goalie Jalen Tompkins’ recent record-setting shutout streak of 480 minutes, 43 seconds — the turnaround this season has been a collective effort.

During last year’s struggles the Buffs scored just 24 goals while allowing 27. They already have surpassed last year’s scoring total with 28 goals while allowing just nine, though the Buffs still have a four-game run against league heavyweights Stanford, Cal, UCLA, and USC that begins next week.

For the second consecutive match the Buffs will play without two starting defenders in injured seniors Joss Orejel and Kahlia Hogg, though Sanchez said he hopes to have both players back before the end of the season. A defense that has allowed just one goal over the past six games still boasts more than capable replacements in sophomore Alex Vidger, who already has appeared in 31 games in her career, and senior Mikaela Kraus, who will play in her 64th career game Friday.

“Mikaela is a senior that has started quite a few games in her career, and we had her in the back all spring and she did a very good job,” Sanchez said. “We have a lot of confidence in her. Vidger and Kelsey (Aaknes) have been splitting time as starters all year, so now they’re just both starters. We feel very comfortable with our starting back four still.”

As part of CU’s homecoming weekend festivities and the soccer program’s 20th anniversary, and number of soccer alums will be recognized at halftime of Friday’s match.

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