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Shanade Hopcroft, Libby Geraghty keep postseason hopes alive for CU Buffs soccer

After win against Utah, Buffs await NCAA tourney fate

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The Colorado women’s soccer team will have what certainly will be an anxious three-day wait before the Buffaloes learn their NCAA Tournament fate.

At least the Buffs will go into the weekend knowing they did everything they could to impress the selection committee before the close of the regular season.

Led by senior midfielder Shanade Hopcroft, the Buffs on Friday rallied for a 2-1 win against Utah in the regular season finale at Prentup Field. The Buffs finished the slate on a 3-0-1 run and will find out on Monday if they managed to battle their way into the 48-team NCAA Tournament field.

Hopcroft finished with a goal and an assist, scoring the game-winning tally in the 83rd minute.

“I couldn’t be more proud. Not because we won the game, but because the last three weeks we had no room for error,” CU head coach Danny Sanchez said. “To battle and get these results that we had to have against quality Pac-12 teams was just fantastic.”

Utah struck first, as an errant clearing attempt by the Buffs led to a crossing pass from Courtney Talbot that Eden Jacobsen converted, giving the Utes a 1-0 lead in the 23rd minute.

The Buffs (9-5-2, 5-4-2 Pac-12) answered less than two minutes later, with a lead pass from Hopcroft setting up a goal by Libby Geraghty, who was honored before the game as one of the Buffs’ two departing seniors. It was the second goal of the season and the seventh career goal for Geraghty, a graduate of Cherry Creek High School who suffered a torn ACL in her first collegiate game and battled injuries throughout her career.

“It means so much, you have no idea,” Geraghty said. “It’s been a long four years and I couldn’t have asked for a better Senior Day. We needed that goal. The equalizer was important before halftime and Shanade played a perfect ball. I just had to get on the end of it. That was so exciting.”

Hopcroft provided the winner in the 83rd minute, collecting the long rebound off a Lawson Willis free kick for her third goal of the season.

The tournament field for the pandemic-delayed 2020 season has been reduced from 64 teams to 48, but with a resume that includes two wins against Utah, quality home wins against Arizona State, USC, and Denver, and road wins against Oregon and Cal, Sanchez is cautiously optimistic his club hasn’t played its final game.

“In a normal year, I’d feel really, really good if there were 16 more spots to be had,” Sanchez said. “When you look at our results in league, when you look at our result against Denver which is a really good result as well. You don’t know. But as I told the team after the Oregon State (loss, on April 2), we still control our destiny and I truly believed that. And we got the results. We’ll see, but we did all we could for sure.”

Notable

In addition to Geraghty, Katie Joella was honored for Senior Day before the game…The Buffs also recognized Cole Sanchez, the son of CU’s head coach who is a senior manager for the program…After going through a stretch of scoring only two goals in five games (plus an extra 27 minutes of overtime), the Buffs ended the regular season with consecutive two-goal games…Utah’s goal in the first half ended a run of 336 consecutive scoreless minutes for CU’s defense.

Colorado 2, Utah 1

Utah        1 0 — 1

Colorado 1 1 — 2

Goals — Utah: Jacobsen (Talbot), 23rd minute; Colorado: Geraghty (Hopcroft), 25th minute; Hopcroft, 83rd minute.

Saves — Utah: Edwards 2; Colorado: Hansen 3.