The University of Colorado lacrosse team bounced back late from an offensive drought to seal its 12th victory of the year at Oregon, 14-9, while also breaking the school record for most wins in a season.
"I think this one was about finishing our season strong, and going into Oregon, we know it was going to be a tough battle, especially on senior day," CU head coach Ann Elliott said. "They play so hard and compete so hard all over the field. We knew we had our work cut out for us."
Before the game, the Buffaloes clinched a No. 3 seed in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation tournament, and after Sunday's big win at Oregon, they've made a strong case toward their success heading into next weekend's postseason play.
Sophomore midfielder Darby Kiernan scored five goals on the Ducks seemingly effortlessly, a feat that she's only done three times in her short career. She also helped the Buffs tremendously at the start of each possession by winning a game-high seven draw controls.
Junior goalie Paige Soenksen came through strong for the Buffs, saving eight goals to the nine she gave up.
With the win, the Buffs improve to 12-4 and 7-2 in the MPSF, whereas Oregon fell to 9-7, 4-5. But after San Diego State lost to Stanford on Sunday, Oregon clinched the No. 6 seed in the tournament and will face the Buffs again later this week.
"We're excited about our regular season and we're ready to head into the MPSF, and we get another opportunity to play Oregon and see if we learn from today in some way," Elliott said.
The Buffs got off to a bit of a rough start on Sunday, allowing Oregon to score the first goal of the game just 27 seconds in. Over the next few possessions, they couldn't get much of anything going on offense, either.
Once the Buffs got on the board seven minutes later, it didn't take long for their domineering offense to score five unanswered goals before the Ducks could respond. The Buffs led by as many as seven goals, 9-2, before Oregon started to fight back.
The Buffs led 9-5 at the break.
Throughout the majority of the second half, Oregon terrorized the Buffs on defense while simultaneously taking advantage of their many offensive possessions. Before long, the Ducks closed what once was a seven-point deficit to just two goals, 10-8, with 23 minutes left on the clock.
"I honestly think we got outplayed in the beginning of the game and the end of the first half and then a little bit in the second half. And that's a little thing: we got to make sure we're ready to go," Elliott said.
From that point forward, the Buffs checked back into gear and finished out the game strong.
The Buffs return to action Thursday as they take on the No. 6-seeded Ducks in the first round of the MPSF tournament at Stanford.
"It gives us a lot of confidence," Kiernan said. "I just think it was really important to come out with a win today before the tournament, because it's really good to come off a win."
Alissa Noe: firstname.lastname@example.org
CU 14, Oregon 9
Oregon (9-7, 4-5) 5 4 - 9
Colorado (12-4, 7-2) 9 5 - 14
Goals - CU: Kiernan 5, Fusco 2, Cox 2, Lautman 2, Castagnola 2, Stinson; Oregon: Williams 3, Steinberg 2, Johnson, Pyne, O'Connell, Murphy.
Assists - CU: Fusco 2, Cox 2, Lautman 2, Macleay 2; Oregon: O'Connell 2, Cukar 2, Reece.
Goalies (Min - Goals allowed - Saves) - CU: Soenksen (60:00 - 9 - 8); Oregon: Katzen (37:39 - 6 - 4), Morris (22:21 - 8 - 2).