The Colorado lacrosse team rebounded from a tough defeat and wrapped up its nonconference season with an 11-4 victory over Michigan in Ann Arbor on Sunday.
With the win in Michigan Stadium, CU improved to 7-2 while Michigan dropped to 5-6. Coming off an 11-6 loss at No. 7/15 Northwestern on Friday, the Buffaloes were able to build momentum for a return to Mountain Pacific Sports Federation play this week.
"After Northwestern, we were looking to respond from Friday and learn and come out strong and play a full 60 minutes," CU head coach Ann Elliott said in a release. "Our kids came out and played hard. Defensively, we wanted to stick to the game plan on that end, and offensively, take care of opportunities. We still need to learn how to finish games and finish the last five minutes so we are not defending that whole time."
Colorado resumes conference play at UC Davis on Friday and Stanford on Sunday. The Buffaloes are 2-0 in the MPSF after two early-season conference victories against Denver and Fresno State.
Three Buffaloes scored hat tricks Sunday as Darby Kiernan, Cali Castagnola and Sarah Lautman each scored three times. Kiernan also had an assist, giving her a four-point day while notching her fifth hat trick of the season. Johnna Fusco scored one goal and had two assists.
"I think our offense is built on seven people working hard and dodging hard," Elliott said. "When we dodged hard, we were able to create some things with double teams."
Sunday's matchup started as a defensive battle as Michigan scored the only goal in the first 15 minutes.
A timeout by CU with 14 minutes remaining in the half proved to be the turning point. Coming out of the timeout, Katie Macleay broke the scoring drought for CU at the 13:03 mark to tie the game 1-1 with a man-up goal after a Wolverines yellow card.
Michigan was issued another yellow card moments later to give the Buffaloes another man advantage and this time Castagnola scored, putting the Buffs in front 2-1 with 12:08 remaining in the half. Colorado led the remainder of the game.
"Offensively, it was just us committing to dodging hard and moving the back side," Elliott said of the plan after the timeout. "We had to move the ball a little bit quicker. I thought we had opportunities on the back side that we were able to take advantage of."
Castagnola scored again two minutes later and Lautman scored her first of the game with 5:54 left to give CU a 4-2 lead at halftime.
It was all Buffs in the second half. Castagnola scored her hat trick at the 21:36 mark and Lautman scored the next two goals to give her a hat trick at the 18:26 mark.
Kiernan scored twice and Fusco added another in a five-minute span that gave CU a 10-2 lead with 12:34 remaining.
"We are clicking as an offense and are really working well together," Castagnola said. "We know what each other is going to do and that's helping us create more opportunities."
Paige Soenksen finished with six saves for CU. Fusco was impressive all over the field in addition to her offense, leading the team with three caused turnovers and three ground balls.
"I think our defense played well," Elliott said. "We talked a lot about playing in our man-to-man defense and playing 1-on-1. From our (midfielders) to our defenders to Paige, everyone did their part. They were able to finish plays and that was big today.
"I really thought from Friday to today, we rode hard and were able to create turnovers in transition. I think that followed into today. Our kids rode hard and were able to come up with second chances and Johnna did a really good job of that today."
CU's strong defense forced Michigan into 18 turnovers and the Buffs outshot the Wolverines 21-19.
Colorado 11, Michigan 4
At MichiganColorado (7-2) 4 7 — 11 Michigan(5-6) 2 2 — 4
Goals — Colorado: Kiernan 3, Castagnola 3, Lautman 3, Fusco, Macleay; Michigan : Dion, Carti, Korten, Schueler.
Assists — Colorado: Fusco 2, Cox, Kiernan; Michigan : Coughlan, Breitfeller.
Goalies (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — Michigan: Silber (47:36-7-6), Shane (12:24-4-10); Colorado: Soenksen (60-4-6).