After earning two wins in their first two contests of the season, the University of Colorado lacrosse team is riding high and confident heading into two big road matchups this weekend.
A couple of weeks ago, the Buffaloes upset Denver in Pioneer territory as they sailed to a thrilling 11-10 victory, led by junior attack Cali Castagnola and sophomore midfielder Darby Kiernan, who both scored three goals apiece.
Just a week later, they stormed into Fresno State and dominated in a decisive 18-4 victory. Again, Castagnola and Kiernan proved to be the driving offensive forces for the Buffs, netting three and four goals, respectively.
Based on her team's solid start to the season, Kiernan said that she and her teammates have their heads held high going into next two road games this weekend.
"I think just starting off strong is super important, and I feel like the last game, we just all ready dodged hard and it created space and it gave people a lot of opportunities," Kiernan said. "I think if we do that this following weekend, we'll do really good."
But unlike their last game in California, their upcoming road games at No. 6 Notre Dame (3-0) at 5 p.m. Mountain time Friday and at Marquette at noon MT Sunday won't be so easy.
"I think this weekend, I think it's a big challenge for us, but really we're looking at it as a great opportunity for us," head coach Ann Elliott said. "Obviously, starting the season 2-0 is great, but there's a lot more that we want to do that we have to do, and we have to start Friday night against Notre Dame, who's a great team.
"(Notre Dame has) been playing really well. Individually they're really strong, together they can just do so much and put pressure on you in so many different ways offensively and defensively. Obviously, we have some confidence, but we need to have confidence that we can do the little things to be successful. I think if we do that we can be successful this weekend."
The game plan against the top-10 team, she said, will be to focus on the little things, even if the Buffaloes aren't yet where she wants them to be in that aspect. On the offensive side, she'll look to everyone to step up and contribute, whether it be through assists or shots on goal.
"I think defense is definitely a focus for us this week, I don't think we're to the point where we want to be defensively, we still have to commit to doing the little things all the time, and when you play a good team and don't do that, it's going to show and it's going to show quickly. So we definitely have to focus in on that area as well as taking care of the ball," Elliott said.
After their arguably tougher game on Friday, the Buffs will look next to Marquette (0-3 with losses to two ranked teams going into Friday's game against California). But, as with any collegiate sports team, they have not yet looked much into their game plan against the Golden Eagles as their main priority now is to focus on game number one.
"Marquette's another great team, it's another nonconference challenge for us, and Marquette's been prepared," Elliott said. "They've played good teams leading up to our game and it's going to be a battle up there as well. They're tough, they are going to put pressure on us as well and they're going to compete for 60 minutes. We're going to have a quick turnaround mentally and physically to get ready for that second game."
If all goes well for the Buffs this weekend, they could find themselves in the NCAA Top 20 rankings, as they are already receiving votes for a spot among that elite group of teams.
Alissa Noe: firstname.lastname@example.org