Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer
Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer
During his turn at the podium at Colorado’s fall sports media day last week, women’s soccer coach Danny Sanchez offered the belief his Buffaloes will feature a more versatile scoring punch than the team that completed its delayed 2020 season less than four months ago.
The Buffs made their coach look somewhat prophetic by netting three goals by three different players within the first 28 minutes of the 2021 opener against Colorado State Thursday afternoon at Prentup Field.
Unfortunately for CU, however, history will say that season-opening offensive explosion never happened.
In a wild and contentious turn of events, the first women’s soccer state rivalry battle between the Buffs and CSU since 2018 was declared a no contest after the Rams, playing their first game under new coach Keeley Hagen, declined to return to the Prentup Field turf to resume the game after a weather/lightning delay that ultimately lasted 2 hours, 9 minutes.
While there were early indications the game would be re-played from scratch on Friday morning, BuffZone learned later Thursday night there will be no do-over on Friday and, per sources at CU, the Rams do not intend to reschedule the match at all.
About halfway through that two hour-plus delay, the teams were on the field and just seconds away from resuming the match early in the 51st minute when another lightning strike occurred within a 10-mile radius, necessitating a further delay.
Per NCAA rules, a soccer game is not considered official until at least 70 minutes are in the books. With no lights available at Prentup, officials were ready to resume play at 7:22 p.m. ahead of the mounting darkness. Sources told BuffZone that CSU wanted a full 30 minutes of warm-up time, but the Rams were told they could return to the field at 7:05, equating to a 17-minute warmup.
Instead, while the Buffs and the game officials were getting prepped to resume the action and get the required 20 minutes played in order to make the match official, the Rams remained on their bus in the Prentup parking lot. Because the contest was officially suspended due to weather, the Rams, citing rule 7.6.3 in the NCAA rule book, found a legal loophole to avoid defeat.
That rule states: “Once a game has been started and suspended, it must be restarted not later than three hours after the originally scheduled start time unless mutually agreed upon before the start of the game by the teams or determined by the governing sports authority.”
Thursday’s kickoff was at 4 p.m. Sanchez declined comment afterward.
A do-over on Friday would have started 17 hours after both teams played 50 competitive minutes and would have ended about 48 hours before both sides were set to play again. Each team also has games scheduled for Sunday, with the Buffs taking on Colorado College at the University of Denver in what now is the official season opener. CSU visits DU immediately afterward in the second game of a Colorado Cup doubleheader.
The peculiar finish wiped away a promising start to the season for the Buffs, who posted their first (non) goal of the year in the third minute by sophomore Shyra James, CU’s top goal scorer in the delayed 2020 season played earlier this year. Jade Babcock-Chi and Shanade Hopcroft soon added to the lead, with Hopcroft also posting an assist on Babcock-Chi’s goal. Freshman Rachel Rosen was credited with a pair of assists, but none of those statistics will count.