With a mix of talented new players competing for just a few open positions on the field, combined with a physically demanding opening stretch of the season, Colorado women’s soccer coach Danny Sanchez made some significant alterations to his starting lineup Sunday against Colorado College.
On defense, senior Joss Orejel returned after missing the season opener at Colorado State to attend her grandfather’s funeral and resumed her usual starting role. Sanchez also opted to start senior Courtney Fedor at an outside defensive spot in place of Erin Greening, with Alex Vidger, usually a defender, getting a start in the midfield in place of Cassie Phillips.
At forward, New Zealand native Martine Puketapu made her first start with the Buffs in place of freshman Libby Geraghty, who will be lost for the season due to a torn ACL she suffered at CSU.
Sanchez said the moves were partially motivated by wanting to try new combinations, and partly in response to a schedule that has the Buffs playing their first four games over 10 days.
“A player like (Phillips), she ran the most and spent the most energy on Friday, so we wanted to calm things down a little bit,” Sanchez said. “And (Fedor) has been training and playing well, so we wanted to give her an opportunity. But also Erin did a lot of running on Friday as well.
“We don’t play a lot of Friday-Sundays, especially when we get into conference play. For the next couple weeks we do. If we play 110 minutes on Friday and come back on Sunday in warm weather, we need players to step in.”
Geraghty, a graduate of Cherry Creek High School who had been making an impression during her first preseason with the Buffs, was injured during the first overtime of her first collegiate game on Friday and won’t see the field with the Buffs for another year. However, Sanchez said the Colorado native already is planning to use her redshirt and retain four years of eligibility at CU.
“Like I told her, not only is she a great player but she’s a great person,” Sanchez said. “She’s positive. She’s upset, but if this happens in the seventh game of the season, she doesn’t get the year back. She’ll have surgery in the next couple weeks, and she’ll be ready to go probably by late spring and by next fall she’ll be back to 100 percent.”
The game-winning goal by sophomore Taylor Kornieck on Sunday was her first of the season and 12th of her still-young CU career. She needs just two more to crack the Buffs’ top 10 list of all-time goal-scorers…Freshman forward Katie Joella made her first appearance for the Buffs, taking the field for the final minute of the first half…Friday’s home match against TCU will be the first meeting between the programs. The Buffs follow that game with a Sunday date against Cal-Riverside, which CU has played just once — a scoreless tie in the first round of the 2005 NCAA Tournament that the Buffs won in a shootout.