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Comeback falls short for CU Buffs women’s soccer in showdown against No. 1 FSU

Seminoles’ two goals in 10 minutes too much to overcome

It wasn’t a win. Yet if the Colorado women’s soccer team competes against the top clubs in the Pac-12 Conference the same way the Buffaloes did on Sunday against the nation’s top-ranked club, it likely will be a memorable 2021 season.

Despite a valiant comeback attempt during the second half, the Buffs dropped a 2-1 decision against No. 1 Florida State on Sunday afternoon at Prentup Field before a crowd of 2,536 — the third-largest crowd in Prentup Field history and the fourth-largest home attendance in CU soccer history.

It was an emotional game for CU. Besides playing the top-ranked team for the ninth time in program history, the Buffs also played in honor of freshman midfielder Holly Hunter, whose mother passed away due to cancer on Saturday night. A moment of silence was observed in her honor before kickoff.

“From all of CU athletics and obviously the soccer program, I want to give our prayers and thoughts to Holly, her sisters and her dad Jim. I can’t imagine what they’re going through right now,” CU head coach Danny Sanchez said. “And the crowd was absolutely fantastic. This was the best environment since I’ve been here my 10 years.

“As for the match, the first half I thought we played well. We really limited their opportunities. We talked about the first 15 minutes of the second half and I think we just relaxed a little bit. Credit to them. Those were two good goals.”

Following a scoreless first half, Florida State jumped ahead with a pair of goals in a 10-minute span early in the second half, capped by a Gabby Carle goal off a feed from Yujie Zhao in the 64th minute.

To that point, the Seminoles had only surrendered one shot on goal in three and a half games so far this season. Moreover, in CU’s previous eight matches against No. 1-ranked foes, all losses, the Buffs recorded just one goal total. Suddenly they were facing a two-goal deficit with 26 minutes remaining.

CU, however, made it interesting down the stretch. After Tessa Barton won a battle for a loose ball in the corner, midfielder Jade Babcock-Chi sent a crossing pass to the middle of the FSU penalty box. Junior midfielder Allie Palangi made a determined individual effort to beat an FSU defender to the ball, converting a header that cut the Seminoles’ lead to 2-1 in the 71st minute. It was the first career goal for Palangi and the first surrendered by FSU this season.

Earlier this week Sanchez warned his side would have to be ready for FSU’s stellar possession game, and after Palangi’s tally, the Seminoles were able to play keep-away from the Buffs down the stretch. CU won’t have long to lament the missed opportunity, as the Buffs face another formidable early-season test on Thursday when they visit No. 6 TCU.

“I think everyone battled their hearts out today,” Palangi said. “Obviously we didn’t get the result, but they’re the No. 1 team in the country. It was a really good thing to host them and it was good energy today, and I think it’s a good learning opportunity for us.

“We knew they were going to have the ball for a good majority of the game, so kind of altered our play for that. We knew when we had the opportunities to get the ball to really highlight those, because they are a really good possession team.”

No. 1 Florida State 2, Colorado 1

FSU (4-0) 0 2 — 2

CU  (2-1) 0 1 — 1

Goals — FSU: Pavlisko (Robbins), 54th minute; Carle (Zhao), 64th minute. Colorado: Palangi (Babcock-Chi), 71st minute.

Goalies (Min.-shots on goal-saves) — FSU: Justus (90-1-0); CU: Hansen (90-6-4).