Oregon Ducks at No. 15 Colorado Buffaloes
GAME TIME: Friday, 3 p.m., Kittredge Field.
RECORDS: Oregon 8-7, 4-5 Pac-12 Conference; Colorado 11-4, 8-1.
BROADCAST: Live stream available at Pac-12 Plus.
LEADERS: Oregon — Goals: Jill Zubillaga 49; Assists: Cambi Cukar 39; Points: Shannon Williams 63; Goalie: Brittany Read 11.35 goals-against average, .465 save percentage. Colorado — Goals: Darby Kiernan 51; Assists: Kiernan 21; Points: Kiernan 72; Goalie: Julia Lisella 8.20 goals-against average; .540 save percentage.
NOTES: For the second consecutive week, Kiernan and senior defender Sarah Brown swept the Pac-12's offensive and defensive player of the week awards. On Wednesday Kiernan also was named the IWLCA's national offensive player of the week after posting a program-record 10 points in a win at Cal...Kiernan is on the cusp of breaking her own CU single-season records for goals (52), assists (25), and points (77)...Junior Samantha Nemirov paced the Buffs' offense with six goals in a 14-9 win at Oregon on March 23...The Buffs are 6-0 all-time against Oregon.
The Colorado women's lacrosse team has added another first to its ledger by securing the top overall seed for the inaugural Pac-12 Conference tournament, which begins next week in Boulder.
Yet in a quirk of the league, the Buffaloes have yet to clinch the first regular-season conference crown in the program's five-year history. A win Friday afternoon in the regular-season finale against Oregon would clinch that crown, but a loss combined with a win by Stanford Friday night in its finale at Cal would force the Buffs to share the first regular-season women's lacrosse title in Pac-12 history — even though CU already has swept the regular-season series from the Cardinal.
That still gives the Buffs plenty to play for on Friday afternoon in the CU seniors' final match at Kittredge Field.
"For us in general every game is one game at a time, and this is the most important game we have regardless of the championship or not," CU head coach Ann Elliott said. "So we're really focused in on this. We've talked about how we're the only team in our own control at this point of winning the Pac-12 championship. Focusing in on the things we can control is a big message for this team and has been for the last couple weeks."
While the Buffs still will have an opportunity to play in front of their home fans next week (the Pac-12 tourney will be held at Prentup Field) it will be the final regular-season home game for eight seniors who joined CU program's when it was just in its second season. They helped the Buffs reach the championship match of their former conference, the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation, last year while also earning a bid to the NCAA Tournament for the first time.
CU's seniors will be honored during a postgame ceremony Friday.
"It's definitely weird. I've tried not to think about it game-by-game, but it's definitely going to be an emotional one Friday," said senior defender Sarah Brown, a Boulder native. "I'm just happy to have been able to have this experience. People always tell you it goes fast and to enjoy your time, but it's definitely gone by faster than I thought. I'm definitely going to miss this place."
The Buffs have won four consecutive matches and previously defeated the Ducks 14-9 in Oregon on March 23. The top two seeds in the league tournament get a first-round bye, meaning the Buffs will not play until next Friday against the winner of the match between the fourth and fifth seeds on Thursday. That could very well mean an immediate rematch with the Ducks.
"It's pretty emotional, but I'm excited to play Friday at home and I'm excited to play at home for the Pac-12 tournament," senior and leading scorer Darby Kiernan said. "It flew by so fast. This week has been emotional in a lot of ways. I'm excited to play but sad it's our last game. This team is incredible and last year was incredible for this program. I'm just excited to see what we can do the rest of this season."