It was, just maybe, the saddest social gathering surrounding Colorado athletics in recent memory.
Roughly a year ago the CU women's lacrosse team gathered to watch the selection show for the NCAA Tournament. The Buffs understood they likely were on the wrong side of the tournament bubble, and it was far from a complete shock when they didn't see their name revealed among the 26-team bracket. Still, as CU coach Ann Elliott noted, "there's nothing like watching the selection show as a team and not seeing your name come up."
A similar gathering Sunday evening should prove far more joyous for the Buffs, who expect to receive a historic invitation to their first NCAA Tournament in just the fourth year of the program's existence. The tournament field will be announced Sunday at 7 p.m. MDT on NCAA.com.
"Absolutely exciting," senior Cali Castagnola said. "I think I can speak for the whole team to say we're so excited for Sunday to finally see what's going to happen and where we're going to be. It's been four years working towards this moment."
While the Buffs are as close to a lock as it gets to earn a spot in the field, they nonetheless find themselves on another bubble in terms of whether CU will be a host site for the opening rounds.
The top eight seeds get to play at home, with the top six of those teams receiving a first-round bye. While the picture might change due to the results of matches still to be played this weekend across the country, the Buffs are a longshot to earn a first-round bye but could still land the seventh or eighth seed.
Because CU would have to charge admission in a closed arena, those potential opening-round matches would be played next week at Prentup Field instead of Kittredge Field. CU's only three losses have occurred on the road against teams currently ranked among at least the top eight in all three national polls — Stony Brook and twice against USC. The Buffs have posted program's first four victories against ranked squads this season, though among those victims only Penn State remains in the top 10 of any of the three national polls.
"We've done a great job of trying to build a resume out of conference...and building a resume that is deserving of being in the tournament," Elliott said. "As for the top eight, I have no idea. We're really unsure what's going to happen for us. At the end of the day, I think our ready and our mindset is that we might be on the road and we're excited for the opportunity to play another game."
Like last year, CU has practiced this week between the end of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation tournament and the selection show. Unlike last year, the Buffs have done so with assurances their season is not over.
"It's an exciting time to be playing in the postseason and to be in this position," senior defender Molly Rovzar said. "It's been good to focus on ourselves this past week, which is good because it's been a little hectic. We've been on the road a lot and this has allowed us to focus on fine-tune our team."