Kayleigh Webb isn’t a defender, a midfielder, or even a forward, although the latter spot is the position assigned to her this year on the Colorado women’s soccer roster.
Webb is a soccer player, plain and simple. And for the third time during her Buffaloes career, Webb is embracing a new role for CU while maintaining the same lofty expectations.
The 2022 season kicks off for the Buffs on Thursday with an afternoon battle against Weber State at Prentup Field. Webb, a fifth-year senior who is taking advantage of the extra season of eligibility granted by the NCAA for the 2020-21 pandemic year, has started all 78 games for CU over the past four seasons. For her final season, Webb is moving to an outside forward spot in hopes of adding another dimension to the Buffs’ attack.
“A lot of luck, and thankfully I’ve been able to be healthy this whole time,” Webb said. “I credit the coaches for the training we have, and then our athletic training staff. If I didn’t have them I definitely would not have been able to (start four years).
“Everyone always asks, ‘What position are you?’ I don’t really have one. It’s so different from freshman year center-back to outside forward, it’s not even the same role in how you defend and how you attack. I read what other people are doing and that has helped me a lot, just reading other peoples’ positioning.”
Webb scored her first collegiate goal in her very first game, powering a 3-0 win at Air Force that kicked off the 2018 season. However, Webb ultimately spent much of that year as a central defender. As a sophomore, Webb primarily played as a holding midfielder, and for the past two seasons, she has logged much of her playing time as an attacking midfielder.
As CU head coach Danny Sanchez and his staff evaluated the makeup of the 2022 roster, it was decided the spot where Webb’s presence could help the team’s depth the most was forward. She spent the entire spring season combining with top returning goal scorer Shyra James at the top of CU’s attack. With the summer addition of Colorado native and former Stanford standout Civana Kuhlmann, the Buffs will go into the season with perhaps the team’s most versatile array of offensive weapons in years.
“When we were recruiting her, we loved her energy and all the qualities she provided in the midfield,” Sanchez said. “We thought we needed more depth on the attack, so we put her at a wide forward in the spring, and she and Shyra were easily our leading scorers in the spring. She brings versatility and she’s really grown as a leader, as a captain. She’s really what you want to see in the progression from freshman year to senior year.”
Webb goes into her final season with four goals and five assists in her career. If Webb assumes her normal, every-game spot in the starting lineup, the extra year will allow her to shatter CU’s career records for games played (Nikki Keller, 92) and games started (Laura Munnelly, 91) by a field player.
“I definitely want to be a force going forward, and obviously I know how to defend too,” Webb said. “Every single year I’ve been in a defensive role, and as a forward you don’t always get someone who can work off the ball defensively, and I’m willing to do that for our team.”
Weber State at CU Buffs women’s soccer
KICKOFF: Thursday, 4 p.m., Prentup Field.
BROADCAST: TV — Pac-12 Networks.
RECORDS (2021): Weber State 11-9; Colorado 8-7-4.
KEY PLAYERS (Stats from 2021): Weber State — D Olivia Tucker, Jr. (second team All-Big Sky); D Hailey Price, Jr. (two goals, one assist); GK Mekell Moss, Sr. (.621 save percentage). Colorado — F Shyra James, Jr. (nine goals, two assists); D Hannah Sharts, Sr. (two goals, four assists); F Kayleigh Webb, Sr. (two goals, two assists); GK Dani Hansen, Sr. (.710 save percentage, 1.49 goals-against average).
NOTES: Danny Sanchez begins his 11th season at CU with a record of 112-69-26…CU and Weber State have met just once previously, with the Buffs posting a 1-0 win behind a goal from Hannah Sharts in the delayed 2020 season on Feb. 20, 2021…Weber State reached Big Sky Conference championship game as sixth seed last season but suffered a 1-0 loss against Montana…CU plays its first three matches at home and five of the first six, a run that continues Sunday against San Diego (1 p.m., Pac-12 Mountain)…Sophomore midfielder Jenny Beyer is expected to rejoin the Buffs over the weekend after finishing competition earlier this week with the German U20 national team in the U20 World Cup in Costa Rica.