At Stanford, Calif.
All times Mountain
No. 3 seed Colorado vs. No. 6 Oregon, 5 p.m.
No. 4 UC Davis vs. No. 5 Denver, 8 p.m.
No. 1 USC vs. UC Davis-Denver winner, 5 p.m.
No. 2 Stanford vs. CU-Oregon winner, 8 p.m.
Friday's winners, 2 p.m.
When defender Sarah Brown came in as a freshman to University of Colorado lacrosse last year, she had high hopes to come out strong and make a name for herself early.
But after two games, a bulging disk in her back squelched her goals for her first season in collegiate lacrosse.
But as the saying goes, what didn't kill her made her stronger.
For the now-sophomore from Boulder High School, being sidelined all season gave her the motivation to soldier on through her rehabilitation and overcome what was standing in the way of doing what she loved.
"I wanted it 10 times more," Brown said. "Being able to sit and watch and know that I couldn't do anything, it made me want to go into rehab four and five days a week in the summer and get me back to a place where I could at least play against everyone or at least try to run and compete against everyone to get a spot.
"I'm a very competitive person, so I think the challenge of coming back and coming back stronger. I think that was really what motivated me."
Brown said that from March to August, she couldn't so much as jog, but when practice finally started again at the beginning of the school year, she was back up to speed with her teammates and competing well.
Since then, Brown has been a force for much of Colorado's defensive success, starting with her first game against Denver in February, when she won four draw controls, caused four turnovers and picked up two ground balls.
"My favorite one so far was the Denver one, our first game," Brown said. "I knew I had a lot to prove and I think that was one of the hardest ones I've come out and played. I think I showed that I wanted it and I wanted that spot."
Since then, Brown has recorded 43 total draw controls, 27 caused turnovers (highest on team) and 21 ground balls. On Wednesday, she was named first-team all-conference in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation.
"I think obviously not having played as much as she would have liked or as any of us would have liked the last season, she came back with a lot of energy and focus in what she was doing," CU head coach Ann Elliott said. "She's such a competitor that I think she came back strong across the board and has done a great job, not only on the field but making sure she's putting herself in a position where she is healthy and can play."
With the Buffaloes heading into the MPSF tournament at Stanford this week, starting with Oregon at 5 p.m. MDT Thursday, they'll need all the help they can get on defense after a lackadaisical performance against Oregon just four days earlier.
"We've got to come out strong on Thursday," Elliott said. "I don't think we played well up at Oregon. I don't think defensively we prepared well and it cost us. Maybe not in the win-loss column, but I think it cost us overall in that game.
"We have to do a better job. They have to prepare better and I think they now understand what they're facing, and we've got to come out stronger and more aggressive across the board, individually and as a unit, and we will."
Alissa Noe: firstname.lastname@example.org