Shanlie Anderson and Morgan Rynearson squared off many times in high school, in each basketball and soccer, but neither specifically recalls the other from those meetings.
Little did they know at the time they were on a vastly similar path, one that soon would unite them on the Northern Colorado women’s soccer team.
Rynearson, a former Broomfield standout, is a year older and will be a junior this fall. Anderson, from Centaurus, will be a sophomore. Things are different now that they are clearly acquainted with one other, but the parallels haven’t halted.
Each had something of a breakout 2013 season and, according to Bears coach Tim Barrera, each is being counted on to ramp it up this season.
“My expectations are to score more goals than I did last year and just help the team out,” Anderson said. “Not only score more goals, necessarily, but create more opportunities for the team, get more assists. And I want to take people to the sideline more, because my coach says I have a bad habit of dribbling inside.”
Anderson, a speedy forward, scored three goals last season, including the lone tally in a 1-0 win against Wyoming. Rynearson, a midfielder, had one goal, but it was a biggie. With UNC clinging to a 1-0 lead against Idaho State in the regular-season finale, Rynearson’s tally essentially clinched the Bears’ trip to the Big Sky Conference tournament.
“Morgan was sitting behind some seniors last season, but she gave us some good time when she was in there,” Barrera said. “We’ve graduated 10 seniors, so we’ll need her to be a little louder, a little more of a leader, and hold down the back of the midfield.”
Rynearson is another in a recent string of Broomfield athletes who have gone on to play with the Bears, joining former Eagles such as Megan Bellendir and 2013 senior Danielle Birdsall.
“I’d like to be more active and make a bit of a difference in a game,” Rynearson said. “More assists, more shots on goal, personally. And it’s time to step up and help out with the leadership.”
Anderson is doing everything she can to be 100 percent by the time practices begin in early August. She endured a calf strain in late June playing for the U23 Westminster Samba club team, a squad her and Rynearson have played on the past two summers.
Anderson has had to patiently recover for most of July and has made periodic trips to Greeley to work with UNC trainers.
Barrera is excited for the prospects of the sophomore-to-be.
“Shanlie was a bit of a surprise for us last year,” he said. “When we recruited her, we knew she was a four-sport athlete but that she didn’t necessarily play at a high level of club. She’s still learning the game at the college level, but her upside is huge.”
Barrera said that when he and his staff scouted Anderson, she seemed to improve each time they saw her. They gave her a chance and she took advantage as a freshman, appearing in all 20 games.
“I was happy with my performance,” Anderson said. “I feel like I performed well and I earned my spot … Last year I felt like it was just a huge change from high school soccer and my club team. But I caught on, tried to fit in as best as I could and now I feel like I’m in there.”
Anderson and Rynearson both are fueled from the Bears 9-6-5 showing last season and seem to genuinely like the makeup of the team. For Rynearson, the thrill of scoring the goal against Idaho State has kept her ambitions high.
“It was a good goal,” she said. “It was a back-and-forth game. We were up 1-0 and we really needed that goal to make sure we were going to advance to the playoffs. Now we want to go back.”
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