BLOCK – In Colorado’s last five football seasons, there has been one constant. Kayleigh Webb day in and day out has been there for the Buffaloes for better or for worse.
The fifth-year senior from San Marcos, Calif., started her very first Air Force game in 2018 and every game since. Sunday’s game against Oregon will be her 92nd career start, which will set a new mark for UC female outfielders, surpassing Laura Munnelly’s 91 starts (2003-06).
It’s almost a miracle that Webb hasn’t missed a game, let alone a career start. She goes from zero to 100 MPH on the ground in no time, dismissing all consideration for her body.
Take last Sunday in Washington for example. The Buffs were trailing 2-0 in the 66th minute when a 50/50 ball was sent into the goal area. Webb tracked him down but met the UW goaltender in the air, bouncing off the offer and ramming his face into the goal post.
10 minutes later, after being cleared by medical teams in Washington and Colorado, Webb was back on the court, sporting a fresh black eye and a broken nose.
“The team jokes that my body is rubber and no matter what I get hit with, I bounce right back,” Webb joked. “No matter how many times I’m on the ground, I get up straight away. It’s the first bone I’ve broken. I feel good about it. I’m proud that I don’t give up and it doesn’t It’s not fair to me but to my team. I want them to see that I’m hit, but I’m also doing my best and picking myself up and going as hard as I can.”
Webb rarely – if ever – finishes a contest in a clean uniform, no matter the conditions or the outcome. The Buffs suffered their first loss of the season at Michigan State and Webb was slipping all over the place in the pouring rain. The same could be said of Thursday’s game against Oregon State, where she made a last-second tackle in midfield to keep CU’s 3-2 lead intact.
“Even at club level, I was known as the person who slipped all over the place, the person who gave it my all,” Webb noted. “David [Morgan] always jokes about being a warrior on the pitch. I put my body on the line for everything. I knew coming to college was going to be harder because the girls were going to be stronger and I had to get stronger. In the first game at Air Force, I was sliding all over the place, getting hit, hitting other people and I just knew I could compete at that level with the way I was playing.”
His willingness to do whatever it takes is something that hasn’t gone unnoticed over the years.
“Kayleigh is always ready to play for our team, which is incredible,” said his teammate. Civana Kuhlmann added. “We need that. We’ve had a few close games with both losses and close wins. I think it starts with actions and selflessness like that and the mentality of getting stuck in and winning. We we need that all over the pitch and Kayleigh’s always setting that standard which is great.”
Webb has now played in every position on the pitch for the head coach Danny Sanchez. She started her career as a defender and gradually rose through the ranks and was recognized as a team captain this season.
“She brings us a spark,” Sanchez said of Webb’s game. “She brings the energy. Even that tackle [against Oregon State] when one of their best players runs to goal with 20 seconds to go, she earns that tackle to kill the game. I think the energy she brings is contagious and I think she does a very good job on and off the pitch as a captain.”
Kuhlmann, a newcomer to the team this season, was no stranger to Webb and his game. Kuhlmann has the unique ability to discuss the misfortune of playing the tenacious Buff as an opponent at Stanford and now has the pleasure to also be at his side.
“I’ve been playing Kayleigh for a few years now, so I knew she wasn’t a striker,” Kuhlmann said of playing with Webb. “It’s funny. During our captain’s first training sessions this summer, I just remember looking at him and thinking his movement was so smart and logical on the pitch. When we talked more and that she was trying to learn from me as a striker and revealer told me she was watching what i was doing to try to learn the position i thought it was funny because i think what she does is already so smart and she’s just a real player who knows what to do.
Webb had scored four goals in his first four seasons, with his best effort coming in 2021 (2 Gs). This season, she set career highs in goals (6), assists (3) and points (15) with her time at the top of the roster.
But goals are just a happy by-product for her, as long as she contributes elsewhere.
“I was never a hollow scorer,” Webb explained. “I’ve been someone who likes to get assists. Growing up, my dad always told me that assists are more important because you’re the one who creates the game. You’re the one who gives the opportunity to someone else. I’ve been great at getting assists. Obviously I’d like to score, but if I’m just helping the team in any way I can, I’m good with that.
The switch to forward has been seemingly flawless as she has a point in five of the last six games, Webb is second on the team in Pac-12 play with six points (2 G, 2 A) in the last four final games and comes to his second three-point game of the season against Oregon State.
“Now that I’m in attack it gives me a chance to score and I’m just having fun.”
Sunday’s kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. MT. The game will be streamed on CUBuffs.com/WatchSoc. Fans are encouraged to wear gold and arrive early to celebrate Soctoberfest. There will be a t-shirt giveaway as well as discounted beer. Ralphie is also expected to run before kick-off and will be on the pitch in the pre-game.