FORT COLLINS — Everything about Thursday night's Front Range League match for Boulder against Poudre was on point.
The Panthers moved the ball like a well-oiled machine, controlled the possession and defended well enough to limit the Impalas to just two shots on goal at French Field.
It was a win that Boulder coach Carlos Real knew his team needed and were capable of getting, and they did. Boulder improved to 5-2 overall and 3-1 in the Front Range League with a save-the-tape worthy 2-0 victory.
"There is not that much difference from last year, there are just a lot of people coming back that bought into the culture we have of working together and winning as a team," said Real, whose team was able to put Tuesday's 2-1 setback to Monarch behind them rather quickly. "The more touches and the more players that touch the ball, the better we look."
The Boulder short and precision passing game had the Impalas chasing them all over the field for a majority of the match.
And after the first 40 minutes, the Panthers didn't have anything to show for their effort, other than five shots on goal. The final one, in the 37th minute off the right foot of Morgan Stone forced Poudre keeper Kaiah Mooradian to stretch out to her left to make a diving save and preserve the 0-0 tie going to the break.
Boulder would finally get its elusive tally in the 43rd minute. After earning a corner, junior Sarah Maruyama spotted a streaking Sunny Pine, and the defender bagged her first goal of the season with an unmarked finish on the doorstep.
"It always feels good to get one," said Pine, who takes a little more pride in the effort of her defense mates than she does in the goal. "For me, being a defender, the biggest thing is being able to stop goals and often times we don't get as much recognition for that.
"But it is just as important to not get scored on in order to win the game."
Boulder would put the game away in the 71st minute. One of the few balls the Panthers played over the top of the Poudre defense all night, was right on target from Frida Aguilar to Alia Mentzell, and the senior striker delivered a huge left foot high to the far post that Mooradian couldn't even touch.
"Players make the game complicated when they are selfish. They want to go through people or make the 40-yard pass," said Real, who prides himself on keeping things simple. "When you keep it simple and everyone is in the game, it looks easy. Because all you have to do is move three yards this way or three yards that way."
The Panthers have taken care of business against the teams they should have early on and now they enter the meat of their Front Range League schedule in the coming weeks. And Real, who urged his team to watch the tape of Thursday night's game over again, is confident that his team can continue their play against whoever.
"It doesn't matter who we play against as long as we are true to this style, because any team that we play against is going to be chasing the ball," he said. "The problem is that when they get the ball that they might be more dangerous and we might have to be tighter on defense.
"But if we expand the field and keep it simple and have to chase, they get frustrated and that's the way we want to do it."
BOULDER 2, POUDRE 0
At French FieldBoulder (5-2, 3-1) 0 2 — 2
Poudre (4-4, 2-3) 0 0 — 0
Goals (assists) — Boulder: Sunny Pine (Sarah Maruyama), 43rd minute; Alia Mentzell (Frida Aguilar), 71st.
Goalies (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — Boulder: Elise Thomason-Larssen (80-0-2); Poudre: Kaiah Mooradian (80-2-9).