The wealth of Division I talent inside the state borders has been a boon to the CU Buffs women’s soccer team over the years.
Yet on occasion, and quite understandably, more than a few of those potential recruits want to see more of the world outside the state where they grew up, opting to begin their collegiate careers elsewhere.
Often, though, those same recruits realize life is unique in Colorado, and eventually they find their way back to the Buffs. In a few recent examples, Megan Massey spent one season at Tennessee before becoming a three-year starter at CU. Tatum Barton spent one season at Texas Tech before scoring a combined 17 goals in 2017 and 2018. Current defender Sofia Weiner spent a redshirt season at Virginia but now is on track to be a four-year starter for the Buffs.
Goalkeeper Dani Hansen is the latest native Coloradoan to follow a winding path before finding a home with the Buffs.
A native of Broomfield and a graduate from Monarch, Hansen has been one of the early pleasant surprises for the Buffs, who take a 3-0 mark into their Pac-12 Conference opener on Friday at Washington. While the season has been a homecoming for Hansen, this weekend also will mark another sort of homecoming for the redshirt sophomore, who spent her first two collegiate seasons at Washington before transferring to CU after the 2019 season.
“The team was really welcoming. Everyone on this team is here for each other,” Hansen said. “It has felt great on the field. My defense has really been there for me and helped us out of a lot of jams and has made my job very easy. My defense really bails me out sometimes.
“Being back home, obviously I’m familiar with Colorado and familiar with the coaching staff here, and I knew they would come with a winning attitude. I wanted to be a part of that culture.”
Hansen appeared in just one game for the Huskies in 2018 and played in seven games in 2019, making six starts while compiling a 2-2-2 mark and a .739 save percentage. CU head coach Danny Sanchez said Hansen battled some injuries at UW but, now healthy, she quickly is settling in at CU.
Hansen has started two of the Buffs’ three games, earning this week’s Pac-12 Goalkeeper of the Week honor after making six saves in last week’s home win against Weber State. In the opening win against Denver, Hansen made six saves to post the fourth shutout of her career and her first with the Buffs.
Prior to the season, Sanchez said the goalie spot would remain an open competition, and redshirt freshman Megan Short was able to post her first career shutout in a 3-0 win against Northern Colorado on Feb. 11 without having to make a save. Though Hansen has put together an impressive debut, Sanchez indicated that competition remains ongoing.
Still, given her hot hand, it seems likely Hansen will get at least one opportunity against her former team this weekend. The Buffs will remain in Seattle to face the Huskies again on Sunday afternoon in a nonconference match.
“I think she’s really evolved into the culture of what we want out of our goalkeepers. We’re really pleased with where she’s at,” Sanchez said. “I thought Megan did well also. The competition isn’t over. With Dani, we’re pleased with what she’s done. But it’s three games. We have 13 to go. We’ll see how it goes.”
CU Buffs women’s soccer at Washington Huskies
KICKOFF: Friday, 4 p.m. MT, Husky Soccer Stadium, Seattle, Wash.
BROADCAST: Live stream available at pac-12.com/live/university-washington-2.
RECORDS: Colorado 3-0; Washington 2-0.
KEY PLAYERS: Colorado — D Hannah Sharts, Jr. (two goals); F Shyra James, Fr. (one goal, one assist); MF/D Jesse Loren, Jr., (one goal); GK Dani Hansen, R-So. (1.000 save percentage, 0.00 goals-against average). Washington — MF Ameera Hussen, Sr. (one goal); F Mary Johnston, Sr. (one goal); F Ruby Hellstrom, Jr. (one assist); GK Olivia Sekany, R-Jr. (1.000 save percentage, 0.00 goals-against average).
NOTES: After playing their first three games at home, this is the first of four consecutive road games for the Buffs…Sanchez needs two wins to reach No. 100 in his nine seasons at CU (98-56-20)…CU leads the series against UW 4-2-3, with a 2-0-1 mark in the past three trips to Seattle…In the Buffs’ most recent visit to UW in the 2019 season, the first career goal from Sharts in the 80th minute gave CU a 1-0 win against a 21st-ranked Huskies squad…Washington began its season with a 1-0 win against Seattle and a 2-0 win against Seattle Pacific