Ally Clark was ready for a new experience and a tougher challenge when she transferred from Columbia to Colorado.
Scoring a few key goals early in her Buffaloes tenure has been an added bonus.
Shyra James opened the scoring on Sunday and Clark provided a huge insurance tally late, as the Buffs knocked off No. 14 Michigan State 2-0 before a season-high crowd of 1,156 at Prentup Field. It was the second consecutive game with a goal for Clark, as well as the Buffs’ second consecutive win since Clark was inserted into the starting lineup for Thursday’s win against Colorado College.
The Buffs (3-1) had gone winless in their previous 11 matches (0-7-4) against ranked opponents over the past two seasons.
“I don’t think I ever had that many fans at a Columbia game,” Clark said. “It’s been an incredible experience. The girls are amazing. The coaches are great. Obviously the facilities, the new field, the new locker room, it’s unbelievable. I couldn’t have asked for a better experience.”
CU applied pressure early to a Michigan State team that was playing its second game at altitude in four days after routing Northern Colorado 7-0 on Thursday. The Buffs survived a scare when a shot by the Spartans’ Justina Gaynor deflected off the crossbar early in the first half, and CU goalie Jordan Nytes finished with five saves to post her third shutout in four games.
James gave CU the momentum with her second goal of the season, taking a pass from Lila Dere and turning on a Michigan State defender before launching a left-footed blast past Spartans goalie Kaitlyn Parks. It remained a 1-0 game until Clark’s unassisted tally in the 79th minute gave CU a two-goal advantage.
Prior to the season, CU head coach Danny Sanchez said team defense would be the biggest key for the Buffs, and through four games they have conceded just one goal. Nytes, a sophomore transfer from Oklahoma State, has stopped 14 of 15 shots in her first four starts with the Buffs. Against Michigan State, Sanchez tweaked the defensive combination slightly, returning fifth-year senior Jade Babcock-Chi to the midfield while rolling out a back line of Rachel Rosen, Greer Maguire, Faith Leyba and Phoenix Dawn Miranda.
“(Nytes) managed the game well and dealt with it,” Sanchez said. “I thought the back four were rock solid. They really limited Michigan State’s opportunities. They’re a very good team and they’re very well-coached and their moving attack is first class, and I thought we dealt with it very well.
“Two very good goals, but really pleased defensively. And defensively, all 10 field players contributed.”
James’ goal was the 27th of her career, breaking a tie with Melissa Cartmell for fifth in program history. James’ career point total moved to 56, breaking a tie with Brie Hooks for sixth all-time. Next on the points list for James is Cartmell (61), while Fran Munnelly (30) is next on the goals list. … Veteran defender Lawson Willis, who appeared in 56 games over the past three seasons, made her first appearance of 2023 after dealing with a preseason injury. … CU’s season-opening six-game homestand continues on Thursday against North Carolina State (7 p.m.).
CU Buffs women’s soccer 2, No. 14 Michigan State 0
Michigan St. 0 0 — 0
Colorado 1 1 — 2
Goals — Colorado: James (Dere), 37th minute; Clark (unassisted), 79th minute.
Goalies (Min.-goals allowed-saves) — Michigan State: Parks (90-2-3); Colorado: Nytes (90-0-5).