DENVER • On a snow- and hail-covered field, Colorado College slipped and fell out of the NCAA women’s soccer tournament with a 3-1 loss to the Denver Pioneers on Saturday afternoon.
“I think the weather did have a big outcome on the game,” CC coach Geoff Bennett said. “Did it cost us the game? No. I think Denver adapted well. They adapted better than we did.”
“It was hard to keep our footing,” Notre Dame transfer Kecia Morway said. “But (DU) was just sharper.”
DU’s season scoring leaders Kaitline Bast and Lauren Hamilton made the Tigers pay in the slick conditions on Ciber Field. Hamilton scored one in the first half and Bast added two in the second to help the Pioneers move on.
“You can’t give them that many chances on net,” Bennett said. “They had, what, six shots on net between the two of them. If that happens, some are bound to go in. They’re too good not to.”
In the 17th minute, Bast tapped it to Hamilton, who slid by CC keeper Hanna Berglund, and rolled in the game’s first score.
“They found Hamilton, which for an opposing coach is not fun to see,” Bennett said. “We were a little bit unfortunate (there).”
Then, the Pioneers (16-2-4) put it away in the second half — specifically, Bast sealed it away.
The senior put a head on the game’s 54th-minute goal and redirected the game’s 63rd-minute backbreaker.
With just over 12 minutes left in the game, Tiger Kaeli Vandersluis scored on a bouncing ball in the box to cut the deficit to 3-1, but it was too late by then.
“I think if we had gotten one, down 2-0 it would have been a totally different game,” Bennett said. “But 3-0 was too much.”
In freezing conditions, Bennett huddled his team together, saying nothing could take away from the season the Tigers (14-4-5) had.
They won the regular-season title in the Conference USA — which Bennett calls harder than winning the tournament itself — and CC made its first tourney appearance since 2006.
It was a great journey. Just a hail of a way to end it.
“For the seniors it’s the first piece of major hardware. We’re proud of these kids and what they did,” a beaming Bennett said. “Now it won’t make them feel any better. They’re going to cry. When they see their parent, they’re going to cry. But when they reflect upon it, I think even later today, on the bus home, they’ll know it’s been a good year. I’m glad we’ve all been a part of it.”