Grambling State transfer Haileigh Adams joins CU women’s soccer

2018 SWAC Defensive Player of the Year should bolster Buffs’ depth

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On the eve of preseason camp, the Colorado women’s soccer team has added a player who could bolster the depth of a defensive unit already expected to be a strength for the Buffaloes this fall.

On Wednesday, head coach Danny Sanchez announced the signing of Grambling State transfer Haileigh Adams, a defender who won the Southwestern Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year award last year and enjoyed a call-up to the US U19 National Team Camp.

Adams started 40 games over the past two seasons at Grambling State and has two years of eligibility remaining.

Last year, a season-ending knee injury suffered early by Hannah Cardenas, combined with another knee injury to Erin Greening that caused the then-senior to miss eight games, forced Sanchez to shuffle his defense on the fly. Rookies Jesse Loren, Sophia Weiner, and Emily Groark logged heavy minutes, with Groark’s seven assists tying CU’s record for a freshman set by Kate Russell in 2008. However, one year after posting a program-record 0.61 goals-against average, that figure jumped to .950 last season — though that final total was skewed somewhat by an uncharacteristically lopsided 7-0 loss at Stanford.

Weiner and Loren are set to return this season, as will a healthy Cardenas alongside Kelsey Aaknes, who goes into her senior season with 51 starts to her credit. Adams is likely to at least compete for a rotation spot and will provide valuable depth if similar injury issues strike the Buffs’ back line this fall.

“Last year was a great example. Just when you think you’re set somewhere, you’re not,” said Sanchez, who begins his eighth season as CU’s leader. “We feel like we have a lot of options, and now we have another very good one in Haileigh.”

The Buffs finished 13-4-3 last season behind a high-scoring squad that set program records for goals (48), assists (52), and points (146). Yet a four-game losing streak that closed the regular season made the Buffs a near-miss for the NCAA Tournament, ending a run of two straight appearances and four in five seasons.

The Buffs’ officially open preseason camp Tuesday.