In perhaps its biggest home matchup of the year against one of the top programs in the country, the University of Colorado lacrosse team left the field heartbroken after a thrilling 9-8 loss against No. 7 USC on Friday,
"At the end of the day I feel like we stuck to the game plan, we had a great opportunity and unfortunately the call went against us, and USC made a good play at the other end and we couldn't get it done in the last 15 seconds," CU head coach Ann Elliott said.
All game long, both teams exhibited stellar defense as each goalie was continuously put to the test. No team led by more than one goal.
With 59 seconds left in the game and an 8-8 score, CU junior attacker Katie Macleay appeared to score what could have been the game-winning goal, but the officials overturned the score based on a dangerous follow-through penalty against Macleay.
"Oh, I was like 'We won this.' And it's unfortunate, but it's something out of our control," Macleay said.
Just 44 seconds later, the Trojans capitalized on that misfortune by scoring the winning goal.
The Trojans have yet to lose this year with an overall record of 12-0 (6-0 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation), but Colorado easily handed them their toughest matchup thus far. Prior to their trip to CU, USC averaged a 12.1-point winning margin. The Buffs dropped to 8-4, 3-2.
Junior attacker Johnna Fusco and Macleay led CU with three goals each.
In a first half characterized by strong defense on both sides, the Trojans started out by dominating possession and getting on the board first, but they couldn't shake the scrappy Buffaloes. By the end of the first half, the game saw five tie scores and two lead changes before ending in a stalemate, 5-5.
At the start of the second half, the Buffs took control of the game and dominated possession. But USC stayed with them.
With five minutes left in the game and an 8-8 tie, Fusco attempted a free-position goal that hit the crossbar and bounced vertically in front of the goal before bouncing out. No go.
Fast forward four minutes, when Macleay scored what would have been the go-ahead goal before the officials turned it over on a penalty call. With 15.6 seconds left in the game, USC's Cynthia Del Core netted the winning goal.
"I think it's heartbreaking anytime you play as hard as you can for 60 minutes and you lay it all out there on the field," Elliott said. "But this season's far from over for us and we have to rebound and get ready for Sunday, because all season we've focused on what's next at the end of the game, and what's next for us is Sunday, and that's the biggest game we have all season right now."
The Buffs take on San Diego State at noon Sunday at Kittredge Field. USC (12-0, 6-0 MPSF).................. 5 4 -- 9 Colorado (8-4, 3-2 MPSF)............. 5 3 -- 8
Goals — CU: Macleay 3, Fusco 3, Kiernan, Moore; USC: Delyra 3, Del Core 2, Michael 2, McMahon, Dreyer.
Assists — CU: Moore, Cox, Kiernan; USC: Mawhinney 2, Michael, Johansen, Del Core.
Goalies (Min-Goals allowed-saves) — CU: Soenksen (60:00 - 9-6); USC: Johns (60:00 - 8-5).
Alissa Noe: firstname.lastname@example.org