By James Hill
SAN ANTONIO, Texas -- The fourth-seeded Colorado Buffaloes advanced to the semifinals of the Big 12 Soccer Championship Wednesday with a 1-0 quarterfinal-win over the No. 5 Nebraska Huskers at Blossom Soccer Stadium.
Colorado (14-3-3) will take on the winner Friday of top seed Oklahoma State and No. 8 Texas Tech, who play tonight at 5:30 p.m. Nebraska dropped to 10-9-1 after the loss.
Senior defender Michelle Wenino, the Big 12 co-Defensive Player of the Year, scored the game-winning goal four minutes into the second half. Senior forward Gianna DeSaverio provided the assist. The winner came on a cross in the left corner of the box.
"After not advancing last year, I am just excited that we get to go on to the next game," said Wenino, who took two shots in the game and scored her second goal of the season. "Today was a total team effort; everything was there. Gianna's ball was the best service I think I've ever had. The ball went up and kind of died and I had a lot of time. My defender was ahead of me and the whole backside was left open for me to put it away."
Colorado, ranked No. 16 by National Soccer Coaches Association of America, lost in last year's opener to Texas. The Longhorns, this year's No. 6 seed, edged the Buffaloes 4-2 in penalty kicks in the overtime contest. Texas went on to win the tournament title.
The Buffaloes and Huskers each took 13 shots in the game, with Nebraska leading 6-3 with shots on-goal. The Huskers had a 6-2 edge in corner kicks.
"It was just a typical Big 12 game," said Nebraska coach John Walker. "It could have gone either way. It was a tight game that came down to their goalie making a couple great saves. That is the way it goes. It is disappointing. I have no problems with the effort. The team played really hard."
Colorado inched up on the series with Nebraska, and now trails 5-7-1. Thursday's game marked the first time the two teams met on a neutral field.
Kirstin Radlinski, CU’s senior goalkeeper, registered six saves in the shutout. Brittany Pfeil, a senior goalkeeper for the Huskers, had two saves in 83 minutes of play.
Nebraska junior forward Shay Powell, the Huskers' leading scorer, took five shots with three on goal.
Buffaloes' coach Bill Hempen speculated about Friday's semifinals.
"You get one step further in the tournament and it becomes a little tougher," Hempen said. "We were playing a team today that's trying to get into the NCAA tournament. They were fresh and excited to play. Now, the next layer comes off and the team we are going to play will have to do the same thing tonight and both teams will be equally exhausted on Friday. We just hope that we're not as tired as our opponent."
Colorado's Friday semifinal game with the Missouri/Texas winner is first up at 5:30 p.m. (CT). The winner of Oklahoma State and Texas Tech will take on the Texas A&M/Kansas winner at 7:30 p.m. The championship game is slated for Noon on Sunday.