Top Seed Colorado Set to Begin Big 12 Tournament

When the fifth-ranked University of Colorado soccer team begins Big 12 Tournament play in their first round matchup against Missouri in Dallas on Thursday morning, they will not do so unprepared.

League officials announced Tuesday that the Buffs possessed conference Coach of the Year Bill Hempen, Player of the Year Fran Munnelly, and conference Rookie of the Year Katie Griffin in their record-breaking 2003 regular season which saw CU post a 15-2-1 overall record, helped by a 14-game win streak that lasted nearly two full months from Aug. 31 to Oct. 24. It is the first time in the eight-year history of the program that three Buffaloes solely swept the league's three major awards.

"The individual honors are great for our program," said Hempen. "The fact that we only had one player named to the first team shows that this season is not based around one player, but it's truly a team that plays very well together."

Nine Buffs were named to three All-Big 12 teams, adding to the prestige of CU's best team in program history. For the second straight year, Munnelly was named to the league's first-team, while defenders Tricia Regan and Laura Munnelly along with Griffin were tabbed to the second team. Colorado dominated the all-newcomer team with Griffin, Munnelly, goalkeeper Jessica Keller (school record 14 wins and nine shutouts), midfielder Maddy Minnis (10 points) and forward Kathryn Grandinetti (single season school record nine assists) making the list.

Colorado begins its postseason in the round-robin style conference tournament against the Tigers beginning Thursday, with individual games on Friday and then Sunday to follow.

The Buffs defeated Missouri 3-2 in their first and only meeting of the regular season on Sept. 26 in a closely contested match which began both teams' Big 12 conference schedules. CU won the game in dramatic fashion, with a Jen Thais gamewinner in the 55th minute capping a run of three unanswered Buffalo goals to close out what proved to be a pivotal victory.

Kristen Heil scored both Missouri goals in the game, two of the team-high eight would eventually total on the season. Heil was one of just two Missouri players to start every one of the teams' 19 games, accumulating 40 shots and 18 shots on goal in the process.

Slipping into the Big 12 Tournament with a narrow 4-3 victory over Iowa State, the Tigers are 9-9-1 on the year with a 3-6-1 league record. Although the Tigers' eight-place seed is the lowest rank in program history, the team will extend their streak which has seen them earn an invitation to every conference tournament to date.

Missouri benefited from split goaltending duties from seniors Megan Duncan and Stephanie Krawczyk. Of the two, Krawczyk saw the most action in net, starting eight of the 12 games she played in. Duncan, however, saw decidedly better numbers in her effort in the seven games she started, allowing 1.20 goals per game against and posting 40 saves. Krawczyk had 52 in 265 additional minutes. Together, the duo has faced 244 shots in 20 games.

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