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Rivalry battle goes to Colorado women’s soccer in shutout of DU Pioneers

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In the final tune-up before the start of Pac-12 Conference play, the Colorado women’s soccer team got back on track.

The Buffaloes prevailed 2-0 at Prentup Field on Saturday against their rivals from the University of Denver, netting a header goal by fifth-year senior Kayleigh Webb in the first half before Shyra James added to her NCAA-best scoring total with a goal in the second half.

It was CU’s 11th consecutive win against the Pioneers and got the Buffs (6-1-2) back in the win column after suffering their first loss of the season last week at Michigan State.

“Credit to Denver,” head coach Danny Sanchez said. “I thought they played very well. We came out slow and didn’t create a lot in the beginning. Kayleigh Webb got us the goal [to get going] and Shyra [James] scored on a hustle play. It’s a win against our rival, but we need to play a lot better.

“I thought we did an ok job of managing the game, but right there at the end we gave Denver a really good chance. Dani (Hansen) made a great save to keep the shutout. We need to be better.”

Webb, who scored four goals in the previous four seasons while shuffling between defense and midfield,  continued to justify Sanchez’s decision to mover her to forward this season, as she headed home her fourth  goal this year in the 34th minute to give the Buffs a 1-0 lead at halftime. Webb converted off a long free kick from Alyssa Duke, who earned the first assist of her career.

James took advantage of a critical error by DU goalkeeper Nerea Arrazola in the 57th minute, as Arrazola’s clearing attempt was blocked by James with the ricochet landing in the net. It was the 10th goal of the season for James, and she became the eighth CU player to reach double-digit goals in a season (two players, Taylor Kornieck and Katie Griffin, did it twice). It was the 24th career goal for James.

Hansen needed to make only two saves to earn the shutout. CU played without fifth-year senior Civana Kuhlmann, the team’s second-leading scorer with six goals and four assists. The Buffs will open Pac-12 play at home on Friday against Arizona State (4 p.m.).

“Alyssa hit a great ball and I just went to go flick it on,” Webb said. “I didn’t realize it was a goal, but I’m going to say I meant to do it. It was a great opportunity and I took it.

“We need to have a higher intensity going into Pac-12 play. We need to come out and control the ball more. We need to take our chances in front of the goal. Today was a good game to get ready for conference play, but it shows that we have a lot of work to do.”

Colorado 2, Denver 0

DU 0 0 — 0

CU 1 1 — 1

Goals: Colorado — Webb (Duke), 34th minute; James (unassisted), 57th minute.

Goalies (Min.-goals allowed-saves): Denver — Arrazola (90-2-1). Colorado — Hansen (90-0-2).

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