In a season of many program-firsts for the third-year University of Colorado women's lacrosse team, the Buffaloes have put themselves in position to make additional history.
On Thursday, CU dominated Oregon for an 11-3 victory in the first round of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation tournament. It was the third consecutive opening win in the league tournament for the Buffs and sets up a third consecutive semifinal date against host Stanford, which has ended CU's season in lopsided fashion each of the past two seasons.
The third-seeded Buffs and host Stanford, the tournament's No. 2 seed, will square off at 8 p.m. MDT Friday night.
"Coming out and having a strong start is definitely important in this round," CU coach Ann Elliott said. "
Making sure to not look past Oregon, the Buffs raced out of the gate with the game's first six goals on Thursday night and never looked back, netting two apiece from Cali Castagnola and Carly Cox during the opening salvo.
An Oregon goal in the final minute of the first half trimmed CU's edge to 6-1 at the break, and the Ducks added another tally early in the second half, but the Buffs reeled off a 4-0 run to put the game out of reach.
Castagnola finished with three goals for CU, while Cox and Johnna Fusco each posted two goals and an assist. Goalie Paige Soenksen recorded nine saves.
"If we had let up they easily could have come back, but we just kept going," Castagnola said. "We adjusted well, especially on offense. Oregon plays a lot of different defenses, so adjusting to their man-to-man and zone was something I think we did well."
CU will take a program-best 13-4 mark into the semifinal match against Stanford. While the Cardinal has defeated the Buffs by at least nine goals in each of the past two conference semifinals, CU gained a measure of confidence by playing Stanford close throughout a 12-10 road loss on April 3.
"We're looking forward to another game that we get to have as a team and coming out and competing," Elliott said. "It's a great opportunity to play a team like Stanford. They're such a strong team, they're a tested team. We know it's going to take everything we have to compete. We've seen them in this round before and we really just have to go one play at a time and come out ready to compete for 60 minutes."
Colorado 11, Oregon 3
At StanfordOregon (9-8) 1 2 — 3 Colorado (13-4) 6 5 — 11
Goals — Oregon: Williams 2, Pyne; Colorado: Castagnola 3, Fusco 2, Cox 2, Lautman, Garrison, Macleay, Link.
Assists — Oregon: None; Colorado: Cox, Brown, Fusco.
Goalies (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — Oregon: Morris (60-11-10); Colorado: Soenksen (60-3-9).