As the Colorado Buffaloes' lacrosse team continues to grow, so too does the junior class that helped launch the team when they were freshmen.

Few have seen their numbers jump as dramatically as junior Cali Castagnola.

CU's seventh-leading scorer a year ago with 14 goals and three assists, Castagnola already has far surpassed those numbers through the first seven games this year with 16 goals and seven assists. Those are numbers Castagnola will look to add to when the Buffs take on No. 15 Northwestern on Friday at 11 a.m. MDT.

"Cali has had a great start to her junior year," CU head coach Ann Elliott said. "She has always had the skill to be an impact player. I believe this season, like our whole junior class in all honesty, she came back with a sense of confidence and belief."

Last year's top two scorers for CU, Darby Kiernan and Johnna Fusco, accounted for about 45 percent of the Buffs' total goal production. This season's far more balanced team is averaging 1.2 more goals per game than last year heading into the Northwestern showdown, with No. 2 scorer Kiernan (15 goals, four assists) and No. 3 scorer Fusco (14 goals, three assists), accounting for just 31.5 percent of the total offense.

"Every year this class has put in the work but I think last year they started to see really their potential and what it takes to win," Elliott said. "As their time here winds down I think they have a sense of urgency, of confidence and really just want to make every second count as we look to achieve our team goals."


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Pat Rooney: rooneyp@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/prooney07