In this case, the waiting hasn't been the hardest part at all. In fact, for the Colorado women's lacrosse team the extended respite has been more than welcome.

When the Buffaloes hit the field Friday in the fourth-year program's debut in the NCAA Tournament, it will have been almost two full weeks since CU played its previous game.

That sort of extended lull in the action hasn't occurred all season for the Buffs, who could encounter the need to remove a layer of rust heading into the biggest match of the program's short history against UMass on Friday at Penn.

Yet after a whirlwind series of road trips to close the regular season followed by the stress of this week's final exams, CU head coach Ann Elliott believes the layoff was well-timed for the Buffs.

"I think it was a needed break for us to have, getting that week off between the MPSF (tournament) and the selection show to focus on ourselves and get back to Boulder and just relax a little and catch up on our academics," Elliott said. "I think the timing of everything works out. We've been practicing really hard, so it's not like the girls haven't been out here competing every day. But I think having a little bit of time to settle in before we hit the road again hopefully will prove to be really crucial for us."

Generally, the Buffs played at least two games a week throughout the regular season, with one-game weeks also on occasion. CU played most recently on April 30 in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation championship game, a 16-11 loss at USC.


That defeat was the culmination of a stretch that saw the Buffs play six games over three separate trips to California in a two-plus week span. While the argument can be made that the down-time at home might take the Buffs out of their routine at a time when sticking to a routine often is cited as a key to postseason success, a CU team that has played just one home game since March 25 has readily embraced the lull as an opportunity to recharge and regroup.

"I think (the break) kind of came at a great time, especially with finals," CU junior defender Sarah Brown said. "We were able to get out and work hard at a faster pace and maybe even push ourselves more than if we were in-season and still playing games, because you need a break before a game. This way we were able to just work through it and get better."

The Buffs make their tourney debut Friday with a 5 p.m. MDT start against UMass, a team CU defeated on the road in the second game of the season. The winner will face either the seventh-seeded host Quakers or Navy in a Sweet 16 match on Sunday. Penn takes on Navy before the CU game at 2 p.m. MDT Friday.

Pat Rooney: or