In perhaps its most physical matchup of the season so far, the University of Colorado lacrosse team secured a thrilling 15-14 victory in overtime against James Madison after storming back in the second half of its home opener at Kittredge Field.
"It's obviously always exciting to play at home and be at home, and to come out with a win today is big for us," head coach Ann Elliott said. "It was a tough game, we knew we were going to have to battle for 60 minutes. And JMU's a good team."
Over the course of regulation, the teams saw eight tie scores and three lead changes after the Buffaloes trailed by as many as three goals in the first half. At the start of the second half, CU rallied to get back in the game and never trailed by more than a goal after that.
During the final minutes of regulation, the Buffs (4-1) had the opportunity to seal the deal but a turnover with 1:18 left gave JMU a last chance at victory. With just 1.9 seconds to go, the Dukes nearly finished off the Buffs with a free-position goal, but good defense from CU forced a missed shot and overtime.
At the start of the overtime period, JMU gained possession and held the ball for the next 1:13 before the Buffs caused a turnover and secured a chance to end the game. Ten seconds later, Castagnola sealed the win with an unassisted goal.
"It was a little stressful but it was a happy moment," Castagnola said.
Four Buffs paced the offense with a hat trick each, led by junior attacks Castagnola and Johnna Fusco (four goals each), sophomore attack Carly Cox (three) and senior midfielder Sarah Lautman (three).
From the start in the first half, the Dukes dominated the pace of the game. Three minutes into the contest, JMU scored its first goal, but Colorado was right on its tail just two minutes later with a goal of its own.
Over the next 12 ½ minutes, the Buffs kept pace with the Dukes, tying the score two more times before their defense slipped up. CU fell behind 6-3 midway through the first half.
After closing the gap to one, CU's offense failed to score for another 8:40 before getting back on the board with three quick goals to tie things up at eight.
At the half, the Dukes led the Buffaloes 11-9.
As soon as the second half began, the tide turned in the Buffaloes' favor as they went on to score three quick goals to take their first lead of the game, 12-11, with just over 26 minutes remaining.
Although each team had multiple opportunities to send the other packing, neither could execute on offense down the stretch, sending the game into overtime with a 14-14 score.
Then Castagnola saved the day, scoring the game-winner with a little over a minute left in the sudden-death overtime, 15-14.
"I thought there was a lack of effort and intensity down (on defense), and that makes a difference," Elliott said. "When we let in 11 goals in one half, that's a problem. We let in three or four in the second half, that's the type of defense we can play. And we need to do that for 60 minutes when we play against good teams."
The Buffs return to their home field on Saturday at noon to face Central Connecticut State.
CU 15, JMU 14
Halftime score: JMU 11, CU 9
CU scoring (goals-assists): Castagnola 4-2, Fusco 4-1, Lautman 3-0, Cox 3-0, Kiernan 1-1, Stinson 0-1.
JMU scoring (goals-assists): Angel 3-1, Gordon 3-1, Gress 2-0, Mccarthy 2-0, Romesburg 2-0, Gaudian 1-0, Lawler 1-0, Warden 0-2.
Goalies (saves-goals against): Soenksen 4-14, Harmeyer 8-12, Martindale 2-3.
Alissa Noe: firstname.lastname@example.org