BOULDER, CO – AUGUST 6, 2019: Emma Miller during the first practice for the team. (Photo by Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)
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One of the most intriguing position battles being waged at preseason camp is unfolding in the background for the Colorado women’s soccer team. Yet if disaster strikes the Buffaloes at some point this fall, it might prove to be the most critical.

With one week remaining before the Buffs’ Aug. 22 season-opener at home against Drake, a pair of true freshmen, Megan Short and Emma Miller, are competing for the right to serve as CU’s backup goalie behind senior JJ Tompkins.

Tompkins is set to begin her fourth year as CU’s starter and already has cemented her place among the top goalkeepers in program history. Yet backing up Tompkins never has been an issue, as CU always had Scout Watson waiting in the background. Watson never played much behind Tompkins (eight career starts), but she was well-respected enough to twice be voted co-captain and talented enough to sign with the NWSL’s Tacoma Reign.

Head coach Danny Sanchez said he and associate head coach/goalie coach Jason Green still are evaluating the two newcomers.

“We talk about it every day. They’re both doing well. I don’t think either one has stood out on top of the other one, which is kind of to be expected,” Sanchez said. “They’re freshmen. They’re learning. Training has been pretty even. We’ll see how it plays out. At some point we’ll have a clear backup. But not yet.”

CU’s new goalies arrive from opposite coasts, as Short is a 5-foot-9 freshman from Mission Viejo, Calif., while Miller (also 5-9) hails from Demarest, N.J. Sanchez said the backup goalie competition likely will continue into the regular season, and that whoever receives the No. 2 designation for next week’s opener won’t necessarily be entrenched in that role permanently.

“As the grind of school starts, and you never know with injuries, I don’t expect anyone in the next (week) to jump way ahead of anyone else,” Sanchez said. “Before the game we’ll have an idea who will be the first one to go in, but they’re both battling and have good attitudes. We’ll keep them hungry and see how it plays out.”

Rebooting

The position battles at the CU volleyball preseason camp are more numerous, as coach Jesse Mahoney and his staff goes through the process of rebooting the program after two consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances. The Buffs graduated the two main fixtures from that run in Naghede Abu and Alexa Smith, and the new-look Buffs are integrating nine new players, including seven freshmen, into the mix this season.

The Buffs were picked 10th in the Pac-12 preseason coaches poll.

“The last several years, we’ve had a core, veteran group that was really skilled and really talented,” Mahoney said. “We lost some big pieces, so this year the challenge is to take a young core that’s really skilled and really talented and mold them into the type of players we feel like they can be eventually. We’d like it to happen as quickly as possible, but we’re going to have to be patient and follow the process.”

Black and Gold

The soccer team will hold its annual Black and Gold scrimmage Saturday at Prentup Field beginning at 11 a.m. One hour prior to kickoff, the Buffs also will host a youth clinic for kids ages 12 and under. Registration information for the clinic is available at cubuffs.com.

The volleyball team will host its annual Black and Gold scrimmage on Aug. 24 at the CU Events Center.

Notable

After two years in the program, former CU soccer player Marty Puketapu opted to return to her native New Zealand. Puketapu appeared in 40 games (14) starts for the Buffs the past two seasons, recording 11 goals and four assists…CU volleyball hosts a regional rival in Wyoming for the season opener on Aug. 30 at 6 p.m. — just two hours before the CU football season kicks off against Colorado State in Denver.

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