Shanade Hopcroft already has weathered a well-traveled soccer career, and she has made a big impact at every stop.
After coming to the United States from England, Hopcroft collected eight goals and 15 assists in 28 games at the junior college level at Daytona State College. At UCCS, Hopcroft was a Division II All-American and was named the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference player of the year in 2019.
Gambling on herself to make the same impact on a bigger stage, Hopcroft enjoyed a solid debut season for the Colorado Buffaloes during the delayed 2020 season earlier this year. And now she quickly is evolving into one of the premier offensive forces in the Pac-12 Conference.
On Thursday, Hopcroft continued her recent hot streak by recording a goal and an assist, leading CU to a 2-1 victory against Washington in a Pac-12 battle at Prentup Field.
“If you’re going to be a premier Division I player, you’ve got to get it done in Pac-12 play. And so far, she has,” CU head coach Danny Sanchez said. “Not so much the goals, but her movement, her energy. She could play 90 more minutes right now and really not miss a beat. We’re going to need her. I thought she was a little quiet in the second half, but in the first half she was all over the place.”
Hopcroft was a third team All-Pac-12 selection during the spring season, posting three goals and two assists. She opted to return to Boulder for her “Super Senior” season with the extra year granted by the NCAA for the COVID year of 2020-21, and so far Hopcroft is making the most of the opportunity.
With her goal and assist against the Huskies, Hopcroft has tallied three goals and three assists over the past three games. Hopcroft has posted four games with at least one goal and one assist with the Buffs, three of which have occurred over the past five games.
“I’m trying to play more confident, and I’ve had some help from the coaches,” Hopcroft said. “In the mornings I come out and train and stuff before training. They’ve helped me be more confident. One of my main goals is to just play positive. I think if I do that I usually become confident.”
Hopcroft and fellow senior Hannah Sharts worked together to get the Buffs on the board in the 7th minute, with Hopcroft delivering a corner kick that Sharts redirected off a header for her second goal of the season.
Washington pulled even 12 minutes later on a Vanessa Millsaps goal off an assist from Ameera Hussen. CU took advantage of a Huskies miscue in the 31st minute, as a hand ball call in the penalty box led to a Hopcroft penalty-kick goal.
The 2-1 edge held up for the duration, but the Buffs had to weather a little drama in the waning minutes. An apparent Huskies equalizer with less than 3 minutes remaining momentarily looked as if would send the game into overtime, but the goal was waved off due to an offside call even as the Washington bench called for a hand ball against the Buffs.
CU’s lead held, however, and the Buffs will take a three-game unbeaten streak (2-0-1) into Sunday’s home date against Washington State (noon, Pac-12 Networks).
“Like I told the team we have 10 games left (before Thursday) — five on the road and five at home, and we have to take care of business at home,” Sanchez said. “This is Pac-12 soccer, and for the players that haven’t been indoctrinated into it, this is what you’re going to get every Thursday and Sunday. We’re pleased with the result today, but our attention after treatment and recovery is Washington State on Sunday.”
Colorado 2, Washington 1
UW (2-5-2, 0-1-1) 1 0 — 1
CU (6-3-1, 1-0-1) 2 0 — 2
Goals — Sharts (Hopcroft), CU, 7th minute; Millsaps (Hussen), UW, 19th minute; Hopcroft (PK), CU, 31st minute.
Goalies (Min.-goals allowed-saves) — UW: Sekany (90-2-2); Colorado: Hansen (90-1-0).