The letdown was averted this weekend in emphatic fashion for the Colorado women's lacrosse team.
Now, after a season in which the Buffaloes' fourth-year program was able to join the ranks of the nation's elite, can focus on showing the lacrosse world just how far they have come.
CU completed the regular season on Sunday by dominating Cal for an 18-6 road victory. Combined with Friday's lopsided win at St. Mary's, the Buffs outscored their two opponents 42-11 on the regular season's final weekend and outscored three opponents 59-16 following a loss at USC on April 14.
The Buffs had never won more than 12 regular-season games in any of their previous three seasons but will take a 15-2 mark into the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation tournament that begins for CU on Friday in Los Angeles.
"Getting wins on the road is a big deal for us," CU coach Ann Elliott said. "Just playing better as a team, both on the offensive and defensive end, and building on that will be our focus moving forward.
Sunday's match was tied 2-2 10 minutes into the contest when the Buffs put together a game-changing burst, netting four goals in a span of 4 minutes, 21 seconds while scoring 15 of the game's next 16 goals overall. CU's defense held Cal without a goal for 24:22 during that run.
Darby Kiernan continued to add to her team-record point total with four goals, a figure matched by Miranda Stinson. Johnna Fusco (three goals, one assist) and Marie Moore (two goals, one assist), also figured prominently in the scoring as the Buffs surpassed the 15-goal mark for the 11th time in 17 games.
Katie Macleay and Carly Cox both added one goal and two assists. Senior goalie Paige Soenksen finished with eight saves as the Buffs posted the program's first win in Berkeley.
"Draw controls were a huge factor for us today," Elliott said. "We were able to give ourselves position right off the draw, then I thought offensively we were able to do a good job of executing during those stretches — being aggressive, playing together, and then finishing our shots. Overall, we're excited about the effort and we're excited about our position moving forward."
The Buffs will have a short return trip home before once again heading to California for the third consecutive weekend, this time as the second seed in the MPSF tournament. CU earned a first-round bye and could see Cal again as soon as Friday's semifinals, if the sixth-seeded Golden Bears are able to upset third-seeded Stanford in the opening round Thursday. CU plays either Cal or the Cardinal at 5 p.m. MDT Friday at USC's McAlister Field.
"It's a lot of travel these last three weeks of the season going back-and-forth to California, but we know that," Elliott said. "It's about our leadership and about our senior class bringing the energy. We know what we have to focus on. At the end of the day we know we have strong leadership and a lot of energy and a lot of excitement, and that has to be what sees us through."
No. 9 Colorado 18, Cal 6
At California Memorial StadiumColorado (15-2, 7-1)117—18Cal (5-12, 3-5)33—6
Goals — Colorado: Kiernan 4, Stinson 4, Fusco 3, Moore 2, Castagnola 2, Macleay, Cox, Mistretta; Cal: Fritts 2, Ropp, Pellechi, Schlegel, Corzel.
Assists — Colorado: Macleay 2, Cox 2, Castagnola, Fusco, Moore; Cal: Swanson 2, Fritts, Ropp.
Goalies (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — Colorado: Soenksen (60-6-8); Cal: Wilkens (60-18-7).