From day one at the University of Colorado, attacker Darby Kiernan has been a driving force behind the lacrosse team's early success. Now a junior, she's taken the 6-0, No. 10 Buffaloes to an elite level while adapting to a role she didn't begin her college career with.

"I think she's grown a lot," head coach Ann Elliott said. "Obviously when she first came here she started as a midfielder. Partway through her freshman year, we needed her on attack. I think she's such an explosive player, she's so quick. We needed another presence down there, and she's done a great job adapting into that role over all, and being a huge threat for us and our presence offensively."

Although she's a junior on a senior-heavy team, Kiernan has proven herself a steady leader by example as she has already recorded 16 goals, six assists, and 46 won draw controls — the which she ranks third in the nation.

"I think she's grown as a leader," Elliott said. "She's a quiet leader, but I think she's grown and stepped up in different ways that she can have a huge impact on this team throughout.

"Obviously, draw controls have been a huge part."

Although Kiernan's been excelling on offense and is a large reason why Colorado has been dominating possession of the ball all year, she chalks most of that up to her coaches and the tenacity of her team.


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"It's been awesome. This year has been so great. We're just so focused, and committed to doing well, and I feel like this season, we're just coming in really focused to practice. It's been really exciting," Kieran said. "Everybody has been working so well, and we've been breaking the ball around, moving the ball so well and everyone's been dodging so hard so it creates a lot of offense."

Sunday, the Buffaloes will head to Pennsylvania to take on the No. 6 team in the nation, Penn State, at 10 a.m. With Kiernan leading CU's high-octane offense, Elliott and her team believe they have a fighting chance to come away with another huge win.

"Penn State's obviously an incredible team, and they're a proven team," Elliott said. "They were in the final four last year and I know right now they're very strong throughout — offensively, defensively.

"Offensively, we know against their defense, we're going to have to move the ball around and have everyone be a threat and attack from a lot of different areas. The more we play together, the better we are overall and the easier opportunities we get. It will have a huge impact, and hopefully we'll be ready to get out there and do it."