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Offense gets rolling for CU Buffs women’s soccer in win against Cal State Fullerton

“Super seniors” Shanade Hopcroft, Haileigh Adams score first-half goals

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Finally scoring a collegiate goal wasn’t at all on the list of reasons why Haileigh Adams decided to return for one last season with the Colorado women’s soccer team.

Yet netting that elusive tally certainly will be a nice perk of Adams’ decision.

Fellow “Super Senior” Shanade Hopcroft and Adams posted first-half goals for the Buffaloes on Thursday, leading the way to a 4-2 nonconference victory against winless Cal State Fullerton at Prentup Field.

“It’s exciting,” Adams said. “I was actually talking about it earlier. ‘I’ll never score a goal, I’m a defender.’ But now I scored, so it’s kind of cool. We have talent everywhere on this field and I’m very excited for this season.”

Hopcroft opened the scoring in the 32nd minute, blasting a shot that deflected slightly off a Fullerton defender before settling in the net.

Adams, who transferred to CU from Grambling State before the 2019 season, has spent the bulk of her career playing defense. However, the Buffs’ depth along the backline has allowed head coach Danny Sanchez to tinker with his alignments, allowing for longtime defenders like Adams and Sofia Weiner to find playing time in the midfield.

Adams hadn’t enjoyed many chances to score during her previous 75 collegiate games, and she had not played this year since the season opener due to a knee injury. Yet given an opportunity on Thursday after entering the game in the first half, Adams didn’t miss.

Collecting a touch from sophomore Shyra James, Adams beat a Fullerton defender to the ball to poke it past Titans goalkeeper Noa Schumacher in the 43rd minute, giving the Buffs a 2-0 lead at halftime.

CU junior Allie Palangi pushed CU’s lead to 3-0 in the 60th minute with her second goal of the season, but Fullerton attempted to make things interesting by netting a goal from Haley Brown in the 70th minute. The Buffs, however, reestablished a three-goal edge five minutes later on the first career goal from sophomore Rachel Rosen off a perfect centering feed from Kayleigh Webb.

The scoring burst marked CU’s best offensive showing since a 6-0 win against Northern Colorado in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Nov. 16, 2019. Netting goals from four different players also continued an early-season trend in which the Buffs have proven far more versatile offensively than during the delayed 2020 season played earlier this year.

In 17 games during the 2020 season, the Buffs received goals from just seven different players. Thursday’s effort gave the Buffs eight different goal scorers so far this year through only six games. It is a run the Buffs will look to continue on Sunday during a road match at Purdue.

“This is the best we’ve played in the attack,” Sanchez said. “Not because we scored. Obviously sometimes that’s a by-product of it. But I thought that our movement was very good. I thought our thought process was good. I thought we were getting numbers really well. And they were good goals. There was nothing cheap about any of them.

“Hopefully it’s a precursor going forward to have more options. I think we’re still looking for the right combination, but today was a good day.”

Colorado 4, Cal State Fullerton 2

CSF (0-6) 0 2 — 2

CU (4-2)  2 2 — 4

Goals — Hopcroft, CU (Willis), 33rd minute; Adams, CU (James, Rosen), 43rd minute; Palangi, CU (Sharts, Hopcroft), 60th minute; Brown, Fullerton (Schroh), 70th minute; Rosen, CU (Webb), 75th minute; Amezcua, Fullerton (Hall), 87th minute.

Goalies (min.-goals allowed-saves) — Fullerton: Schumacher (45-2-3); Jackson (45-2-2). CU — Hansen (64-0-2); Grust (26-2-2).