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Forced time off not overly detrimental for CU Buffs soccer team working on reverse schedule

Coach Danny Sanchez hopes Buffs will soon be back to work

Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer
Colorado head coach Danny Sanchez and the Buffs lost only two regulars from a 2017 team that went 12-6-4 before losing at North Carolina in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

For the Colorado football team, the stay-at-home directive ordered by Boulder County Health more than a week ago for 18 to 22 year olds in Boulder was an unfortunate setback for a squad on the brink of finally having a 2020 schedule.

For the CU men’s and women’s basketball teams it also was an inconvenience, though with the NCAA settling on a Nov. 25 tipoff date for the basketball seasons, those teams’ preseason workouts will not be compromised if the Boulder Health order isn’t extended past its original Thursday deadline.

Yet for the Buffs’ other fall sports that have seen their seasons pushed into 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic, the ongoing halt to organized workouts has been frustrating but hardly debilitating. CU women’s soccer coach Danny Sanchez had been supervising workouts throughout the early portion of the fall, yet he had been planning to give his team some time off in the near future anyway.

The order from Boulder County Health made that time off occur a little sooner than expected. For a Buffs team now preparing for a schedule that kicks off in early February, instead of tackling the first few weeks of the demanding Pac-12 Conference schedule as they usually would in early October, the forced respite on the sideline has been a manageable hurdle.

“We all want to train and keep working, but as I told the team is we’re kind of looking at it as a reverse season and this is our winter-spring,” Sanchez said. “We were giving them a week off anyway. We were kind of trying to emulate a spring break-type thing. We probably did it a week or two earlier than we would have done it, but we were going to give them time off anyway.

“As much as they want to work, this is going to be the longest season they’ve ever done. We’re going to be going full-bore from early January through April and maybe into early May. Having a little time off isn’t the worst thing since we’re not competing right away like football or men’s and women’s basketball are. They have good spirits. They get it. It’s where we’re at, and when we get back at it hopefully next week, we’ll be ready to go again.”

On Sept. 22, the NCAA announced women’s soccer can begin competition on Feb. 3 in a regular season set to run through April 17. The NCAA Tournament selection, which has included the Buffs in five of the past seven seasons, will occur the next day. It will be a 48-team tournament instead of the usual 64.

Sanchez said the Pac-12 women’s soccer coaches held a conference call last week in part to lobby for at least a short nonconference schedule, likely region-based, leading into league play. The Buffs already had been plotting a predominantly local nonconference schedule before the Pac-12 opted to postpone all fall sports on Aug. 11.

“All of our (league) coaches are on the same page,” Sanchez said. “We want a ‘normal’ seven-week conference schedule in March and April leading up to the NCAA Tournament. And in February we want the conference to approve nonconference games, just like every other school in the country that’s playing right now is doing. I think everybody accepts we’re not going to be traveling across the country for nonconference games. If we can bus close by, or if somebody can zip up to us, and we can meet the testing protocols, there’s no reason not to play. But it probably will be a couple weeks before we finalize that.”