Portland 3, Colorado 0



PORTLAND -- The University of Colorado soccer teams bid for a second round upset fell short as the Buffs dropped a 3-0 decision to sixth-ranked and fifth seed Portland in front of 1,998 fans in the second day of play of the 2004 NCAA Division I Soccer Championships on the University of Portlands Merlo Field here Sunday afternoon.

Colorados attempt for the winningest season in school history fell short, ending the Buffs season at 15-6-2, tying the school record for single season wins (15). Portland improves to 19-3 overall, and will play Texas, 2-1 winners over West Virginia in Austin, in the third round next weekend in Portland.

The shutout was just the second the Buffs had fallen on the short end of all season.

The loss was the third by a Big 12 team in second-round play Sunday, as Illinois ended Texas A&Ms season 2-1 in College Station, and Nebraska beat regular season co-champion Kansas, 2-1 in overtime in Lawrence.

You cant give the ball up to a team like that, said head coach Bill Hempen. We were fortunate to go into halftime down 1-0. We made some bad choices in the second half and they buried it. I really enjoyed the game, but we just came out on the wrong end.

Colorado took the matchs opening kickoff, but it would be Portland that would take the first shot, a Lisa Sari attempt just 44 seconds into the contest that sailed high over the crossbar. Colorado answered less than a minute later when a Fran Munnelly serve found Katie Griffin on the elbow of the 6 and her shot went across the net and high.

While the Buffs created some offensive opportunities, it was Portlands non-stop pressure that resulted in the games first lead, a serve from Kari Evans to Natalie Budge at left elbow of the 18 and Budges shot went over CUs Jessica Kellers right shoulder and extended arm into the back of the net.

The score seemed long overdue, as it was on the Pilots seventh shot of the half. Kari Evans shot in the seventh minute was wide; a setup off a Kristen Rogers cross was snagged by Keller in mid-air in the eighth; an Emily Michaelson header off the Pilots first corner was also wide in the 10th minute before Keller made her first save off a Budge blast from 19 yards out; UP leading scorer Christine Sinclairs second shot of the game nailed the left post and was rebounded back into play before being cleared by Tricia Regan and a Sinclair breakaway brought Keller 20 yards out of goal to go one on one with the Canadian National Team member to make the right sideline clear, sending Laura Munnelly to guard the goal line.

The Buffs best opportunity in that span was CUs Allie True battling Kristen Moore for a loose ball inside the Colorado 18 which was eventually cleared by Moore in the 12th minute. Maddy Minnis had the Buffs last attempt of the half from the top of the box that was blocked by Rogers in the 43rd minute.

At halftime, Portland had the 9-2 edge in shots, 2-0 advantage in corners, while Keller made a pair of saves to Cori Alexanders one.

Colorado came out of the intermission with a sense of urgency, which showed when Ellen Falender took the second halfs first shot just one minute in from 10 yards out, but was snagged by Alexander just off the left post her second save of the game.

Portland gave itself some breathing room when a Lindsay Huie serve from 30 yards met up with Sinclair just outside the 18, who broke through a pair of CU defenders and lobbed one over Keller, whose attempt to tip it over the crossbar was tipped into the back of the net for a 2-0 Pilot advantage.

The two combined for another shot at Keller in the 54th minute when Huie sent a cross from left to right across the net and a diving Sinclairs header just off the right post went just wide right.

With the Buffs on their heels the remainder of the game, Portland would put the game out of reach for the Buffs when Huie worked around Darci Smerchek in the box, and though she couldnt get the shot off with Keller out of goal, Portlands pressure resulted in their third score when Kelsy Hollenbeck found Budge and her shot from 15 went between Keller and the right post in the 73rd minute.

Portland cleared their bench and made a goalie change after the score, but the Buffs would only manage two more shots in the game, including Trues with eight minutes left off a free kick from the left flank that was saved by Ruth Gilliam, Fran Munnellys seconds later that sent Gilliam diving off the right post, setting up CUs first corner of the game where Falenders corner kick met up with Jen Thais just off the penalty kick stripe, but her effort fell short. With four minutes left, Regan found Falender inside the 6, but Falender was unable to get solid footing for the shot just off the left post.

The loss not only marks the end of the season, but the end of the careers of seniors Ellen Falender, Shannon Kellogg and Jen Thais. The three will go into the annals of the program as its winningest class in program history with 43 career wins. As freshmen they were members of a team that won three games. They were members of one of the biggest turnarounds in the nation, and the most improved in Big 12 history, as sophomores, winning10 games in 2002. As juniors they claimed the schools first Big 12 title in the sport, and advanced to their first-ever NCAA Championship, and their second as seniors winning their first-ever tournament game Friday vs. Utah.

With the 2004 campaign in the books, the Buffs will take some time off the pitch before looking ahead to the 2005 season, when they return all but one starter and all but three letterwinners. They will open Bill Hempens fifth season at the foot of the Flatirons against North Carolina on Aug. 26 in Topeka, Kan. and kick off the home slate Aug. 28 against Vanderbilt.

You have to learn how to walk before you can run, said Hempen on next seasons outlook. And right now were walking pretty fast. The foundation is definitely there for us to have another solid season next year.

-- Courtesy Colorado