BOULDER – The University of Colorado is in familiar territory. Three games into the 2013 season, the Buffaloes have tied last year’s program record of three straight shutouts to begin the season, and Annie Stuller has notched the fifth multiple goal game of her career.

The Buffs took down the Air Force Falcons 2-0 for the second straight year. Colorado has matched its record-setting start to the season to earn a 3-0 record. The Falcons fall to 0-2-1 after facing Big 12 and Pac-12 Conference opponents in back-to-back games.

soccer anne stuller

Defense was the name of the game for 72 minutes, until the Buffs went on an offensive frenzy. At the 72:47 mark, Olivia Pappalardo edged the net, slamming the left post. Just seconds later, Anne Stuller was ready on the attack for her first goal of the season. Less than five minutes later, Stuller was at it again, scoring off an assist from Alex Huynh.

“I think the first half she was pressing a little bit, trying a little bit too much,” CU head coach Danny Sanchez said. “The first goal is the kind of goal we want her scoring. Where she’s inside the box and can shoot from there, instead of having to do stuff from midfield. The second goal was just a great ball from Alex to release her and a quality finish. It’s good for her to open her 2013 account, but obviously we’re just counting on her to score some goals this year … I don’t think it’s any big secret that she’s dangerous. We need to get her on the end of stuff. When she does that, she’s obviously good around the box.”

Stuller is just the fourth Buff to record at least four multiple goal games in her Colorado career. She joins Fran Munnelly (four) and Nikki Marshall and Katie Griffin, who each had seven. In each of the last three seasons, Stuller has had at least one multiple goal game.

“It’s totally a confidence boaster,” Stuller said. “It helps me just feel like, ‘OK, I can play with these girls. I can do this.’  It feels good, but more than anything it feels good to win.  I’m just more happy about that than anything else.”

The Buffs shined in the second half, outshooting the Falcons 11-6 during the game, taking nine shots in the second half alone and limiting Air Force to just one second half shot. CU also had three opportunities off corner kicks, while Air Force had none. Both Annie Brunner and Kelly Stambaugh both grabbed three saves in their respective nets.

“I think Air Force has much improved,” Sanchez said of the team the Buffs also defeated 2-0 last season. “You know they’re always going to work hard and be organized. I think they have some quality on the field. I was pleased with how we turned it on at the end, but obviously the first half we didn’t play our best soccer. The second half, especially those last 20 minutes, I felt like we really started connecting and had a little bit more run of the play. A lot of credit to Air Force, they played very well today.”

Colorado’s first shot came in the first 41 seconds off the boot of leading scorer Brie Hooks. The Buffs wouldn’t get another shot off until the 39th minute, when Darcy Jerman got blocked.

Brunner picked up her first save in the seventh minute. Just over two minutes later, Air Force sent off another shot, this time sending the ball wide.

The Buffs got a lot of touches in the first half, but couldn’t seem to keep total control of the ball, with neither team successfully dominating the offense.

With 10 minutes remaining before the half, the Falcons gained momentum, but Ashley Greco’s shot made for an easy save. The Buffs backline held off any more attacks, with Lizzy Heral stopping a ball by the left post to prevent a close call at a shot attempt.

“Hats off to our defense,” Stuller said. “Everyone’s been so solid.  Brunner’s controlling the back line so well, Lizzy’s just a great senior leader and she makes it look easy. She’s a good defender. She makes some hard stops that she makes look pretty easy.”

Colorado picked up its intensity on both sides of the ball in the second half, attacking early. Huynh took a long free kick in the 49th minute to set the ball up for several Buffs at the net. Herzl got the first touch, hitting it just wide. Later, Hayley Hughes made contact, but once again the shot was wide.

The Falcons continued to press the Buffs’ net, but the CU defense refused to allow any shots to get past them. Air Force’s only shot of the half came at the 68:08 mark, but Brunner was ready for another save.

With 20 minutes remaining, Stuller was on the offensive, rushing from the backfield to the net, but she couldn’t control the ball. The Buffs quickly reassembled, with Bianca Jones sending one to the keeper from deep right. One minute later, Stuller, at the left corner of the field, found Emily Paxton at the net, who hit the ball high.

The Buffs’ drive couldn’t be stopped, keeping possession to set up their first goal. After an Air Force foul, the Buffs took charge. In the 73rd minute, Pappalardo hit a close one to the left post. Stuller was ready for the rebound, scoring just six seconds later.

“They felt really good to get,” Stuller said of her two goals. “As a forward, you want to score. There were two easy goals thanks to my teammates. Brie took the ball down on the first one, beat a girl, it was a good beat, and drove it across. It was a jumbled mess in there and I think Olivia got on it and got a touch and it came right to me. I just had to hit it far post, pretty easy goal because of my teammates.”

In the 78th minute, Stuller was ready again, taking an open shot from Huynh behind the right side of the box to give the Buffs a 2-0 lead that would hold for the remainder of the game.

Come cheer on your CU Buffs soccer team as they take on the St. Mary’s Gaels on Sunday, Sept. 1 at 1 p.m. Remember to support the Buffaloes from the Buff Brigade cheering section located on the north end of Prentup Field.

“They’re a very good team, very athletic,” Sanchez said of the Gales. “West Coast Conference is a very good conference. They’re very tough. They play top end teams week in and week out. I expect a very end-to-end game. Their team likes to attack like we do, so I expect a very entertaining game on Sunday.”


Marlee Horn
Graduate Assistant SID
University of Colorado
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