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Huge opportunity on hand as No. 1 Florida State visits CU Buffs women’s soccer

CU set to take on two top-10 foes in five days

BOULDER, CO- Aug. 19, 2021: University ...
University of Colorado Boulder’s Dani Hansen guards the goal during the game with CSU in Boulder on August 19, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

Colorado women’s soccer head coach Danny Sanchez didn’t “have” to add a game to the Buffaloes’ schedule this week.

In fact, even though CU had the option of adding a game after the scheduled season opener against Colorado State was declared a no contest, it might be fair to say not many programs would go out of their way to add a game just days ahead of a visit from the No. 1 team in the country.

Sanchez opted not to “over think” the situation. Confident his team is accustomed to playing two games per week, and with competition for rotation spots still on-going, the Buffs squeezed in a 3-0 win on Wednesday against Colorado Mines as a prelude to one of the most anticipated home matches in program history.

That match finally arrives on Sunday, as No. 1 Florida State visits Prentup Field for the completion of a home-and-home series between the clubs.

“I think sometimes as coaches you over-think things,” Sanchez said. “We play two games a week. That’s what we do almost for the majority of the season except for two or three weeks. This early in the year, when we’re still trying to find ourselves, when we’re still trying to identify players who could be in the rotation when we get to Pac-12 play, they need to play.

“Coaches will over think it and say we just want to rest all week. I’d rather play a good team on Wednesday and still have a couple days to prepare.”

The match will be the eighth in CU program history against the top-ranked team in the nation and the third at Prentup Field. The Buffs lost each of those previous seven No. 1 matchups, and the most recent one was particularly frustrating — a 7-0 loss at Stanford in 2018 that began a four-game, season-ending losing streak that kept CU out of the NCAA Tournament.

In 2019, though, the Buffs played toe-to-toe with a Florida State squad that eventually reached the NCAA quarterfinals, dropping a 3-2 decision on the road in overtime. Florida State was the national runner-up in the 2020 season after losing to Santa Clara on penalty kicks in the championship game.

“Any time you get a chance to play a team like Florida State, it’s one hell of an opportunity to show what you’ve got,” CU goalkeeper Dani Hansen said. “I think we’ve really been focusing on what we can do better and really paying attention to details in practice. I think it’s going to be a great game for us to showcase ourselves and show what we’ve got.”

After an unusual start to the season — the CSU opener was ruled a no-contest after the Rams refused to return to the field following a weather delay — a Buffs team seeking a third straight NCAA Tournament appearance will know where it stands in the early stages of the season after this week. Not only do the Buffs host the top-ranked Seminoles, but on Thursday they visit No. 6 TCU.

“We encourage all the top teams in the country to play us, but not a lot will come to Boulder,” Sanchez said. “So we’re appreciative of Florida State setting up the home and away. I think it’s great for both programs to get top teams out of conference, because both of our conferences are brutal. So it’s exciting for the players, and it’s a situation where great moments and great opportunities don’t come unless somebody has presented them. And we’re presented with a great opportunity on Sunday to see where we’re at.”

No. 1 Florida State Seminoles at CU Buffs women’s soccer

KICKOFF: Sunday, 11:30 a.m., Prentup Field.

BROADCAST: TV — Pac-12 Networks.

RECORDS: Florida State 3-0; Colorado 2-0.

LEADERS: Florida State — Goals: F Beata Olsson, So., and D Gianna Mitchell, Sr., two; Assists: MF Ran Iwai, So., two. Goalie: Cristina Roque, So., 0.00 goals-against average. Colorado — Goals: F Shyra James, So., two; Assists: MF Rachel Rosen, So., and MF Allie Palangi, Jr., two; Goalie: Dani Hansen, Jr., 1.000 save percentage, 0.00 goals-against average.

NOTES: Florida State has surrendered just one shot on goal through three games…The Seminoles have posted shutout wins against Texas A&M, Alabama, and South Alabama the team that knocked off CU in the first round of last season’s NCAA Tournament…After just seven players scored goals for the Buffs in the shortened and delayed 17-game 2020 season, CU already has received goals from three different players in James, Hannah Dougid, and Kayleigh Webb through two official games. That total doesn’t include the goals by three different players (James, Jade Babcock-Chi, Shanade Hopcroft) in the abbreviated opener against CSU.

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