During the first two games of the season, Colorado soccer goalie JJ Tompkins barely needed to break a sweat while posting her first two shutouts of the season.
Thursday was a different story. Tompkins and the Buffaloes’ defense were under assault early by visiting Kent State, surrendering their first goal of the season in the 21st minute to fall behind for the first time this season. Yet CU was able to answer the challenge, getting a clutch performance from sophomore Kayleigh Webb along with a goal and an assist from senior Taylor Kornieck to post a 2-1 victory at Prentup Field.
With the win, the Buffs improved to 3-0 for the first time since 2014 ahead of a visit from No. 24 Texas on Sunday (1 p.m., Pac-12 Network).
A tally by Kent’s Karly Hellstrom in the 21st minute gave the Golden Flashes the lead, but it could have been much worse for the Buffs. Tompkins was forced to make a very difficult save in the early minutes, and Kent State also had a rebound goal nullified by a late offside call in the 12th minute.
“JJ made an unbelievable save in the first five minutes, and they were offsides on the goal but they still scored the goal and then we were still sleepwalking a little bit,” CU head coach Danny Sanchez said. “But credit to them. This is a good team. There’s a reason Rob (Marinaro, Kent’s coach) has been there 19 years and has a lot of success. There’s nobody once you get to this level that you can just roll into. Maybe to a certain extent we weren’t focused enough.
“Having said that, I was pleased with, especially, the second half.”
Webb helped the Buffs get on track during a sequence that began with a Hannah Sharts corner kick in the 37th minute. The kick sailed to the far post, where Kornieck centered it with a header. The ball skimmed off the head of freshman Tessa Barton to Webb, who buried her own header inside the near post.
The score remained 1-1 through halftime until Webb got in the middle of the action again in the 65th minute, this time drawing a foul in the middle of the Kent State penalty box. Kornieck converted the penalty kick to give the Buffs’ a 2-1 edge they were able to protect the rest of the way.
“I’ve definitely challenged myself to get into the box more and be more of a player that’s going to be a challenge for the other teams,” said Webb, who scored one goal while making all 20 starts last year as a freshman. “I want everyone to have to look out for me when I’m in the box. That’s really what I’m trying to be and to get into that position so I am a threat.”
After using the same starting lineup for the season’s first two games, Sanchez made a slight tweak Thursday by giving senior Camilla Shymka her first start of the season and fourth of her career. It was Shymka’s first start since a match at Utah on Nov. 3, 2017…Kornieck improved to 6-for-6 on penalty kicks in her CU career and matched Fran Munnelly’s program record for penalty-kick goals…Kornieck continued her push up the charts of CU’s all-time leaders. She became just the third CU player with 20 assists in her career, trailing only Kathryn Grandinetti (21) and Munnelly (24). Kornieck also moved into a third-place tie with Katie Griffin with 78 career points. Kornieck is chasing Munnelly (84) and Nikki Marshall (93) for the all-time points lead.
Colorado 2, Kent State 1
Kent State (0-1-1) 1 0 – 1
Colorado (3-0-0) 1 1 – 2
Goals: Kent State — Hellstrom (Shedenhelm), 21st minute; Colorado — Webb (Te. Barton, Kornieck), 37th minute; Kornieck (PK), 65th minute.
Goalies (min.-goals allowed-saves): Kent State — O’Neill (90-2-3); Colorado — Tompkins (90-1-3).