Pulley’s Golden Boot part of a Golden era for UNC Soccer
Since the Northern Colorado soccer program joined the Big Sky Conference in 2006, fans would be hard-pressed to find a team with more consistent success.
Nine straight trips to the conference tournament (the most of any team), two regular-season championships and two tournament titles to earn a pair of trips to the NCAA Tournament are just a few of the accolades head coach Tim Barrera has collected while in Greeley.
Right in the center of it all in 2022 was senior standout Lexi Pulley.
A native of Laramie, Wyo., Lexi was no stranger to UNC and its continued success.
“My sister, Jacqui, played soccer here right before me, so I already knew the coaching staff and the dynamics of the team,” said Pulley. “I loved everything I saw and heard from her and knew I would enjoy playing my last years of soccer for the Bears.”
While Jacqui solidified a stellar career in her own right from 2014-17, it didn’t take long for Lexi to hit the ground running. Named one of the top-100 freshmen in the country by TopDrawerSoccer.com, Pulley never stopped working, both on the field and in the classroom.
“Lexi is a really heady player, tremendously skilled and an even better teammate,” Barrera said. “She really creates a lot on the field, not just for herself but for everyone else as well.”
A solid start in non-conference play had many feeling positive about making another run through conference play, none more than Pulley herself.
But before Pulley and the Bears took a stab at the Big Sky, she saved one of her favorite moments for her hometown fans.
Lexi had already found the back of the net in every way possible, but her 15th career goal in UNC’s 3-1 win over Wyoming was the first time she’d scored in her hometown of Laramie.
Fast forward to the end of the regular season and Pulley had made a habit of scoring. Eight goals against conference opponents, including two on the final day of the season against Idaho State had Pulley leapfrog teammate Taylor Bray to secure the Big Sky’s Golden Boot award and Offensive MVP.
“Winning the Golden Boot means so much to me,” Pulley said. “My teammates set me up perfectly for each of my goals, so they definitely deserve just as much recognition.”
Though it may not have been the picture-perfect season for Pulley and Bears with UNC falling in the conference semifinals, Lexi wouldn’t trade any of it for the world.
“The culture of this program is one of the best I’ve seen,” said Pulley. “The coaches care about your life outside soccer, which is something I don’t think a lot of programs get to experience.
“I have made lifelong friends and we are all super close. It’s a family-oriented atmosphere and I wouldn’t have gotten where I am today without them.”