As the third season of Colorado women's lacrosse fast approaches, head coach Ann Elliott and her team are looking to improve upon their first two seasons, which they completed with a 22-15 overall record.
As part of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation, the Buffaloes have enjoyed a place in the top four in conference standings in their first two years as a program. During both of the MPSF tournaments they competed in, a first-round victory earned them a chance to play in the semifinals, where they lost each time.
"We're excited about our season last season and our first two seasons as a program, but we want to do better," Elliott said. "Our goals are to do better and to get better every year. I try not to put too many expectations on it outside of we want to get better every day and we want to improve on where we were last year."
Now that the Buffs have some experience under their belts with 17 juniors at the helm of the program, they'll have more confidence going into their season, which begins Feb. 12 at the University of Denver.
"Obviously, I think we're growing and we get stronger and stronger every year," junior attacker/midfielder Cali Castagnola said. "We just keep adding people and the freshman are learning and they've gotten really good throughout the fall. And then the sophomores learned from their freshman year, and the juniors are finally the older crew and we're starting to mesh well."
Castagnola premiered as one of the top players during her freshman year with the program as she tied for first on the team with 12 free-position goals and finished second with 47 points and 39 goals. Last year, she took a step back as she only scored 17 points on 14 goals and three assists, but she looks to improve her stock again this season, especially with the team starting conference play on Day One.
Junior attack Johnna Fusco, who was a top offensive presence for Colorado the past two seasons, agreed with her teammate on the level of improvement she's seen within her team over the past three years.
"I think we are looking better than ever. We obviously have some work in all areas, but I think that this is as strong as we've been in the past three years and it comes with experience as well. With the experience we have—a lot of upperclassmen this year, so that's new—we're looking good," Fusco said.
Last season, Fusco led the Buffaloes with 101 shots on goal, 44 of which she converted for a score, and finished the season with 52 total points. She also led the team with 21 free-position goals.
Although freshman midfielder Olivia Aschman hasn't had the chance to see any action yet, she's confident in her team's ability to win based on the way their practices have gone.
"I think our freshman class is very athletic and we get to push the upperclassman from the back and stuff and just help out all around," Aschman said. "I think we're looking really, really good. I think we're improving every single day and everyone works really hard. It looks good."
Last season, the Buffs dropped their game against Denver 10-6, so they'll be looking for redemption as they head into their season opener.
"It's a huge game for us because it's a conference game and it means a lot. We want to succeed in our conference and do well," Elliott said. "I know and these girls know that we have a challenging schedule, probably our most challenging in our three years here now, and they're excited about it.
Alissa Noe: firstname.lastname@example.org