PHOENIX (11/21/10) - The University of Colorado men's club soccer team is the 2010 NCCS National Soccer Champions.
Senior defender Connor Hutchinson scored two goals in the championship game to help lead the Buffaloes to the 3-1 victory over the University of Missouri on Saturday Nov. 20 at the Reach 11 Sport Complex.
“I’m extremely proud of the guys and their accomplishment this year,” said CU head coach Dave Vaughan. “They were dedicated and focused from the very beginning of the season, and we were destined to win this tournament.”
Hutchinson scored four goals in the three days of competition and was named the tournament MVP after his superb performance against Missouri.
The championship is the program's second in its history as the Buffs also won the national tournament in 2005.
Colorado finishes the season with a 19-2 record with their only two losses coming from Colorado State on Oct. 29 and from North Carolina on Nov. 18 in the second game of pool play. The Buffs earned an automatic bid to the national tournament after finishing as the top seed at regionals in October.
Coming into the season the goal of the team was to win the National Championship, but Hutchinson said that it wasn’t until the Buffs’ 3-0 shutout victory over Colorado State on Sept. 11 at Dicks Sporting Goods Park did the club really believe they could win the title.
“The game against CSU was our measuring stick for the season,” Hutchinson said. “That is all you pretty much have to base it off at the beginning, and obviously winning 3-0 in dominating fashion gives you the idea that we could definitely win the championship this year.”
In the championship game, the Buffaloes jumped out to a 3-0 lead with Hutchinson scoring in the 18th and 75th minutes and freshman midfielder Anthony Smoller scoring in the 40th minute before Missouri was able to get on the scoreboard.
MU’s Shane Rasch scored on a penalty kick in the 79th minute to cut the Buffs lead to two but that would be as close the Tigers would get as CU would hold on to win the championship match.
Colorado began the tournament on Thursday morning in pool play with a 4-2 victory over the University of Pennsylvania before falling 2-0 to North Carolina later in the day. The Buffs and the Tar Heels both advanced from the pool, but it would be CU that had success in the championship bracket as UNC lost 1-0 in the first round to Virginia.
The Buffs took care of business on Friday to advance to the semifinals on Saturday as they defeated Michigan 1-0 in the first round and then beat Northwestern 3-0 in the quarterfinals.
Colorado continued their hot play on Saturday morning as they took apart Arizona 4-1 in the semifinals before their championship game victory over Missouri.
Freshman goalkeeper Karl Toot played all six games in goal for CU and let only four balls get past him in the final five matches, two of which came on penalty kicks. Toot’s outstanding play in net was good enough for him to be selected as the best goalkeeper in the tournament after the championship game.
Five Buffaloes made the All-Tournament Team with graduate student Daniel Upchurch, junior Daniel Whittle, graduate student Daniel Campbell, Hutchinson and Toot making the list.
The Buffs’ junior varsity squad also had a good tournament in the men’s open division with them making it all the way to the quarterfinals before losing 2-0 to Cal Poly.
At last season’s national tournament, Colorado lost a disappointing game to the University of Florida in the semifinals, which just makes this year’s championship victory so much better for the members of the team who were on last season’s squad.
“Definitely for all of the guys that were on the team last year, it was pretty disappointing to get to the semifinals and not be able to take that last step to win it all,” Hutchinson said. “This year it made it a lot sweeter to make it to the finals and win it.”
Watch the post tournament interview with MVP Connor Hutchinson at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S572-QQMEtk
Tournament website: http://www.nirsa.org/Content/NavigationMenu/Sports/Soccer/NIRSA_Soccer_Sport_.htm
Championship Game Scoring Summary
18’ – CU Connor Hutchinson
40’ – CU Anthony Smoller
75’ – CU Connor Hutchinson
79’ – MU Shane Rasch - PK
Head Coach Dave Vaughan
ON WHEN HE KNEW THE TEAM COULD WIN THE NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP – “I knew after the CSU game at Dicks Sporting Goods Park that we had a team that could compete for a championship. That is when I knew that we could accomplish something great.”
ON HIS TEAM’S PLAY IN THE TOURNAMENT GAMES – “We were fit, more fit than every other team we played, and we played a smarter tactical game each time.”
Senior Forward and MVP Connor Hutchinson
ON BEING NAMED TOURNAMENT MVP – “I kind of had a good game in the finals. We all played really well and I got to put a couple away. If you put a couple away in the finals you will most likely come back with the MVP.”
ON TEAM’S DEFENSE AND GOALKEEPING – “I thought our defense played amazing, definitely our goalie (Karl Toot) too. He made a couple real good saves in the (championship) game. Definitely a couple that could have gone in and he did a good job keeping them out and keeping the game from getting real close.”