Controversial finish leaves CU Buffs women's soccer with stunning loss in Pac-12 opener

·3 min read

Sep. 23—It was a wildly entertaining Pac-12 Conference opener, complete with dramatic momentum shifts, a sudden comeback, and an overflow of emotions.

It also featured a crushing and controversial finish for the Colorado Buffaloes.

After rallying from a two-goal deficit late in the second half, the Buffs were stunned in the waning moments when Arizona State's Eva van Deursen was credited with a game-winning goal with three seconds remaining despite the boisterous protests of the CU bench, forcing the Buffs to swallow a 3-2 defeat on Friday at Prentup Field.

Van Deursen's shot sailed toward the top left corner of the net, arcing just under the crossbar. CU goalie Dani Hansen was able to get her outstretched hand on the ball and swat it forward, but the assistant referee ruled the ball crossed the end line.

"The bigger picture is we came out too slow and we didn't play with any urgency until we were down 2-0," CU head coach Danny Sanchez said. "Then we played how we're capable of playing. We scored two great goals and we were pushing for the game-winner. That's where the game was lost. In the first half when we just didn't play with effort and urgency."

The Pac-12 Conference instituted a replay review process this season for women's soccer, and Sanchez and his assistants were animatedly adamant about getting a review of ASU's final score. However, the setup at Prentup Field falls short of league protocols for initiating a video review.

First, officials must have access to a video monitor dedicated solely to official reviews. There is no such setup at Prentup. Furthermore, any review of ASU's game-winning goal would have required a camera angle along the goal line, which also is absent at Prentup. Even if officials had been inclined to look at the play via a nearby tablet, or the public video board at the southwest corner of the stadium, the elevated, midfield vantage that supplied the live stream would not have provided the evidence required to overturn a call made on the field.

The lack of a video review setup at Prentup may have helped the Buffs (6-2-2) earlier in the second half. With ASU holding a 2-0 lead, a foul on CU's Hannah Sharts could have been ruled within the penalty area, which would have awarded a penalty kick to the Sun Devils. ASU coach Graham Winkworth foreshadowed some of Sanchez's upcoming protests with his vehement argument the play should have been reviewed for a possible penalty kick.

Given a reprieve from a possible three-goal deficit, the Buffs abruptly rallied, getting within 2-1 on a goal from freshman and Legacy High alum Juliauna Hayward. Just 72 seconds later Civana Kuhlmann, who missed the previous game due to an injury she re-aggravated earlier in Friday's match, pulled the Buffs even off an assist from Phoenix Miranda.

Despite the rally, the Buffs fell to 1-2-1 in their past four matches and will have to regroup from the gut-punch of a finish before hitting the road next week for games at Washington State and Washington.

"It's the worst kind of situation. You fight back to get back in the game...and for it to be something out of our control to call the game, it's a bit defeating at the moment," Kuhlmann said. "However, we're really encouraged by the swing of 25 minutes in the second half there, the way we got back into it. And these things even out, so one time it will go our way."

Arizona State 3, Colorado 2

ASU 1 2 — 3

CU 0 2 — 2

Goals — ASU: Delgado (free kick), 30th minute; ASU: van Deursen (Nguyen), 59th minute; CU: Hayward (unassisted), 70th minute; CU: Kuhlmann (Miranda), 72nd minute; ASU: van Deursen (unassisted), 90th minute.

Goalies (Min.-goals allowed-saves) — ASU: Nelles (90-2-3). CU: Hansen (90-3-4).