During the University of Colorado lacrosse team's first-ever senior day on a snowy Sunday, the Buffaloes stormed to a 16-4 victory for their first win against California in the program's short three-year history.
"I think it's exciting for us as a conference win," head coach Ann Elliott said. "We came out here knowing we're 0-2 (against Cal), and we have a lot to prove. We wanted to come out and play hard and do everything in our control to put us in the best position as we continue working our way toward the conference tournament."
Before the game, the Buffs honored their lone senior, defender Sarah Lautman, who made the transition from club lacrosse to Division I during her sophomore year after Elliott was hired to pioneer the school's first women's lacrosse program.
"It's a little weird that I'm the first one leaving," Lautman said. "It's been an amazing ride. It's been one of the best experiences of my life, best three years, and I'm sad it's ending."
Lautman finished her final game at home with two goals and three shots on goal. During her career, she has helped the Buffs to 33 wins over three years.
"I think it was a really fun game, obviously," Lautman said. "I'm proud of my team coming out hard. And we beat Cal, so that's good. I think it was a really great game all around."
Darby Kiernan shined on offense for the Buffs as she led the team with four goals and two assists. Freshman midfielder Miranda Stinson and junior attacker Johnna Fusco each added a hat trick.
With the win, the Buffs improve to 11-4 overall and 6-2 in conference play, while the Bears drop to 3-12 and 1-7 in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation. Before their big win Sunday, the Buffs were one of three teams in the conference to earn a guaranteed bid to the MPSF tournament, which begins May 1.
Last week, Colorado narrowly missed a top 20 ranking in the Inside Lacrosse Poll but received enough votes to, more or less, place them at 21st in the nation. With a 23-0 victory over Saint Mary's on Friday and the win against Cal on Sunday, they could find themselves in the top 20 this week.
In a first half dominated by excellent defense and stellar goalie play from both teams, the Buffs and the Bears struggled early to get rolling on offense. But once the clock hit the midway point, Colorado picked up the pace on offense and stifled the Bears on defense.
By halftime, the Buffs led 8-3 with a single save from junior goalie Paige Soenksen and six in all from Cal goalie Jenny Wilkens.
The Buffs scored early and often in the second half, diminishing any hope for a Cal comeback.
Next up, the Buffs head to Oregon to take on the Ducks at noon Sunday. The game will be broadcast on the Pac-12 Networks.
"I think every game as we try to get better gives us a little more confidence. There are still things we need to work on, but we know now we have one more game to play on Sunday against Oregon, and we'll start shifting our focus to that," Elliott said.
CU 16, California 4
Cal (3-12, 1-7).............. 3 1 — 4
Colorado (11-4, 6-2) ......8 8 — 16
Goals — CU: Kiernan 4, Fusco 3, Stinson 3, Lautman 2, Moore 2, Cox, Castagnola; Cal: Fritts 3, Mattimore.
Assists — CU: Kiernan 2, Brown, Stinson; Cal: Lavie 2, Fritts, Landry.
Goalies (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — CU: Soenksen (60:00-4-2); Cal: Wilkens (60:00-16-7)
Alissa Noe: , email@example.com