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Marshall ends game with 1:05 left in OT

September 4, 2009 | 11:30 pm No comments
By George Tanner

University of Denver goalkeeper Lara Campbell played a spotless game for nearly 109 minutes on Friday in Boulder. Then CU’s Nikki Marshall ended it. Marshall scored with 1 minute, 5 seconds remaining in the second overtime period to clinch a 1-0 victory for Colorado, capping a match of frustrating offensive dominance for the Buffs and exhausting defensive stands for the Pioneers.

With the Buffs pressing for nearly all of the two overtimes, CU earned a corner kick late in the second OT when the DU defense blocked a shot by Marshall.

The corner, coming from the right flag, flew over the fray in front of the DU goal but wound up with the Buffs on the left wing. Midfielder Kate Russell chipped the ball back toward Marshall, who fought off a defender and found the ball at her feet. Marshall shot into the lower left side, giving Campbell no chance to make a save.

“That’s one of those goals where you’re in the right place at the right time and you’ve just got to put it away,” Marshall said. “I think that’s what happened.”

Campbell agreed, saying the ball dropped just right for Marshall after deflecting off DU’s Katy Van Lieshout.

“Basically Nikki came up behind our defender, Katy. The ball went into Katy’s stomach, Nikki hit it from behind, got the ball and snuck it under me,” she said. “It’s tough because they were so close, but I guess I could’ve got out a little earlier, a little more.”

The goal came after a prolonged stretch in which DU was fighting simply to stay alive. CU put six shots on goal in the second half and played nearly all of the overtimes in DU’s end of the pitch, but the Buffs could not get the ball past Campbell.

The freshman goalkeeper from Alaska sparkled. Her finest moments were many: a save on a header by Marshall in the 49th minute; a spectacular leaping save on a looping ball from the right wing in the 53rd minute; another clutch save four minutes later; a difficult stop on a hard, low liner by Marshall with less than 13 minute in regulation; a sliding collision with Marshall in the box with two minutes left.

Russell, Kelly Butler and Kassidy Fitzpatrick began to assert themselves in the second half and took over completely in OT. DU could not maintain possession and could not get forward, but Colorado could not finish - until the last few moments.

“We got a little bit tired toward the end,” DU coach Jeff Hooker said. “We defended too much in overtime. When you defend that much you’re maybe hoping to get out with a tie. But we just defended so much that something bad was going to happen.”

That something was Marshall. The preseason All-America selection began the game at center back but moved to striker about 20 minutes into the game. The CU offense began to stir, then it played downhill toward the DU goal in the second half, keeping Campbell busy.

Surprisingly, the freshman from Alaska was upbeat after the game and said all the pressure the Buffs brought was not a bad thing, from her perspective.

“It’s not exactly comfortable because you’re always on your toes; you’ve always got to be ready for that shot,” Campbell said. “But it’s fun. It’s actually a lot of fun. It hard work, but I like doing it. That’s why I’m a goalie. … When you’re not playing a lot or getting a lot of shots, it’s obviously not that fun because you’re not involved. But when you’re giving it all you’ve got and making those saves it’s a lot of fun.

“It just sucks when you lose.”

THE END-GAME CELEBRATION: After Marshall scored, she was swamped by teammates, but she fell to the ground. The Buffs were careful not to pile on top of her. “Well, my calf was cramping,” Marshall said. “My calf cramps all the time, and that was the last shot for me. And I’m glad it went in because I don’t know if it would’ve gone five more minutes. I just fell down and was trying to stretch my calf out.”

WOMAN OF THE MATCH: Marshall, clearly. In addition to the goal, she made a few spectacular runs up the right wing. When she had the ball at her feet, the crowd buzzed, the Pioneers stiffened and offensive possibilities came to life. But she’s not the only player worth mentioning. If Marshall was the bullet in the Buffaloes’ chamber, then Butler was the trigger. During the second half and the overtimes, CU played get-the-ball-to-Nikki, and the player who excelled at that game was Butler.

CU’S DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME: Once Marshall moved forward, junior defender Taryn Vitacca took over the back line. She showed excellent footwork and positioning and was a physical presence. But, most impressively, she accepted the responsibility of running the defense. Her leadership at the back was unmistakable. Buffs goalkeeper Tara Linder made three saves in recording her second shutout of the season.

DU’S FINEST: On defense, Campbell was busy and often spectacular. On offense, Kaitlin Bast and Kalie Vaughn were DU’s main offensive contributors.

THE CU TOURNAMENT’S EARLY GAME: Oregon outshot Colgate 36-3 but had to wait until the 82nd minute for senior defender Danielle Sweeney to score the equalizer as the Ducks tied Colgate 1-1. Oregon’s total nearly broke the school mark of 39 shots. Colgate’s Jamie Herrmann scored an unassisted goal in the 54th minute.

THE PEANUT GALLERY: After Marshall’s winning goal in the 109th minute, one of the players in the early game said, “Well, that was impressive.”

AND SPEAKING OF POSTGAME COMMENTS: After the game, a reporter asked Marshall, “Your dad says you’re not quite as technically sound as you are fast. Do you think you’re getting better?” Now Marshall’s father might have said that, but for a reporter to bring it up was insulting. Marshall, being in a professional setting and surrounded by at least half a dozen members of the media, either didn’t recognize the slight or ignored it. Either way, good for her. It was a bush-league comment to make in public. Basically this: You’re not so much a good player as you are fast. Would this same journalist ask Dikembe Mutombo if he’s a good player or simply tall? I doubt it. If his point was to say that, despite all the accolades Marshall has received, she might still be getting better as a player, then just ask her that. But if that was the point, let me answer the question: Yes, of course she’s getting better. A soccer player does not peak in her early 20s. There. That was simple.

PRENTUP PACKED: CU listed the official attendance at 2,711, which would mark the second-largest crowd at Prentup Field.

DU STARTERS: Campbell, Bast, Vaughn, Rogers, Van Lieshout, Stewart, Beardsley, Johnston, Carlson, Storslett, Briedenbach.

CU STARTERS: Linder, Menachof, Ross, Barczuk, Lowry, Fitzpatrick, Bricker, Butler, Russell, Vitacca, Marshall.

UP NEXT: Colgate faces Denver at 11 a.m. Sunday at Prentup, and CU meets Oregon at 2 p.m. Admission and parking are free. Here’s a link to our directions to Prentup Field.

blockquote-tiny-georgie-mug George Tanner is a former writer and editor for the Rocky Mountain News; the Greeley Tribune; The Daily Independent of Ridgecrest, Calif.; the Durango Herald; and the Boulder Daily Camera. He is a graduate of the University of Colorado and an affiliate professor at Metropolitan State College of Denver. E-mail him at [email protected].

To advertise on Colorado Soccer Now, e-mail George at [email protected].

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