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CU soccer can’t fend off firepower of No. 2 Stanford

Nation’s leading scorer Catarina Macario posts goal, assist for Cardinal

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Against the highest-scoring team in the nation and one of the favorites to win this year’s national championship, the margin for error was precariously thin for the Colorado women’s soccer team.

An early mistake essentially erased that margin Thursday against No. 2 Stanford.

CU senior goalie JJ Tompkins opted to challenge the nation’s leading scorer, Stanford’s Catarina Macario, on an early chance wide of the Buffs’ goal mouth. Instead, Tompkins was called for a penalty, and after Macario converted the penalty kick in the 11th minute the Buffs’ upset bid already was behind the proverbial 8-ball in what became a 4-0 defeat in a Pac-12 battle at Prentup Field.

Macario finished with a goal and an assist as the Buffs fell to 1-4-1 in their past six matches.

“I thought for the most part that we did stick to the game plan. It was a little unfortunate (on the penalty), kind of a deflection that falls to their best player who I thought (Tompkins) did a good job of dealing with most of the match,” CU coach Danny Sanchez said. “But sometimes when teams get that early goal they relax, and I thought after that we played well. The second goal was off our set piece and we got countered, and I thought that killed the game.

“Overall, we’re going to choose to take the positives from it. We competed, we stuck to the game plan, it wasn’t our day so we have to get ready for Cal on Sunday.”

It was the seventh time this season Stanford has scored at least four goals in a game, including three times in seven Pac-12 games. It also was a season-high in goals allowed by the Buffs.

CU managed to keep the deficit to 1-0 into the second half until Macario broke free for a run along the left wing. She delivered a perfect centering pass to Madison Haley, who pushed the Cardinal lead to 2-0 in the 66th minute. Stanford added two goals in the final 13 minutes to pad the final margin.

The Buffs were unable to generate much push against the Cardinal defense, finishing with just a lone shot on goal, but Sanchez defined that shortcoming as more a credit to Stanford’s dominant offensive possession than his team’s inability to pressure the Cardinal.

“First of all, they have quality in the back. Second of all, they had the ball most of the time,” Sanchez said. “So when you’re not defending us as much it makes it a little bit easier. But that’s not to take anything away. Their outside backs get forward, their center backs are rock-solid, and I thought their goalkeeper deals with what she needs to deal with. The nature of how they play and the fact that when they have the ball, it’s tough for the other team to score.”

Notable

CU freshman Jade Babcock-Chi made her first career start and was given the unenviable task of marking Macario throughout the contest. “She’s been playing well so I thought we’d do something different,” Sanchez said. “I thought Jade did a good job. She dealt with (Macario). It’s a little bit of a thankless job, but for the most part she did well.”…Senior midfielder Steph Zuniga had started every match this season but came off the bench for the first time against Stanford. Freshman Alyssa Duke saw action for just the fifth time this year…The Buffs host Cal on Sunday in their final regular season home match at 1 p.m.

No. 2 Stanford 4, Colorado 0

Stanford (14-1-0, 7-0-0) 1 3 — 4

Colorado (10-5-1, 2-4-1) 0 0 — 0

GoalsStanford: Macario (PK), 11th minute; Haley (Macario), 66th minute; Goad (Enge, Pickett), 77th minute; Harber (Malatsky, Rubinstein), 88th minute.

Goalies (min.-goals allowed-saves)Stanford: Meyer (90-0-1); Colorado: Tompkins (90-4-8).