The ninth-ranked Colorado women's lacrosse team wasted little time making certain a letdown wouldn't be part of the script Friday night.
Facing a struggling St. Mary's team mired in last-place in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation, the Buffaloes tallied four goals within the first three minutes of the match before cruising to a 24-5 victory.
The win, combined with Stanford's loss against No. 8 USC, secures second-place in the MPSF for the Buffs heading into the regular-season finale Sunday afternoon at Cal. The top two seeds in next week's six-team MPSF tournament — the Trojans and CU — receive automatic byes into Friday's semifinals in Los Angeles.
The Buffs also set a school record for goals in a game, eclipsing the 23 they scored against St. Mary's last year.
"Our focus has always been to put ourselves in the best position as we head into the postseason, and making sure we can control what we can control," CU head coach Ann Elliott said. "To be able to do that moving forward and have a bye next weekend at the MPSF tournament is a huge thing for us. We've had to play Thursday the last three years and we're excited for the extra day, especially with the extra travel back-and-forth to California."
Katie Macleay tallied the Buffs' first goal just 41 seconds into the contest, and within the first three minutes Carly Cox added two more along with a goal from leading scorer Darby Kiernan to give the Buffs an almost immediate 4-0 lead.
The Buffs built their lead to 9-0 before St. Mary's got on the board, and CU led 15-2 at halftime.
Kiernan led the Buffs' record-setting offensive show with four goals and three assists, giving her a career-best seven points, while sophomore Blair Sisk matched career-highs with three goals and four points. The Buffs also received two goals apiece from Macleay, Cox, Miranda Stinson, Johnna Fusco, Holly Sutherland, and Sophia Castillo.
CU freshman Aubrey Kingdom recorded her first career goal. Starting goalie Paige Soenksen needed to make only one save before giving way to Sophia Gambitsky for the second half.
"I think we came out strong," Elliott said. "We continue to focus on offensively being aggressive and playing good, disciplined defense with their feet and I thought our girls did that. We've got to keep getting better and just keep going one day at a time."
Despite having their position set for next week's league tournament, don't expect the Buffs to rest many starters during Sunday's regular-season finale. Given Friday's rout Elliott was able to use her bench liberally, and CU is eager to keep its momentum rolling forward with the postseason looming.
"It's still a huge game for us at Cal. This has been a tough trip for us in the past," Elliott said. "We know how important that game is to the big picture for our program. We're going to come out as strong as we can and prepare as well as we can in the next 48 hours for that game."
No. 9 Colorado 24, St. Mary's (Calif.) 5
At St. Mary'sColorado (14-2, 6-1 MPSF)159—24St. Mary's (1-12, 0-7)23—5
Goals — Colorado: Kiernan 4, Sisk 3, Fusco 2, Cox 2, Stinson 2, Macleay 2, Castillo 2, Sutherland 2, Mistretta, Knapp, Kingdom, DeWinter, Perry; St. Mary's: Zummo, Carmazzi, Mack, Dunlap, Lubert.
Assists — Colorado: Kiernan 3, Cox 2, Fusco, Macleay, Sisk, Castagnola; St. Mary's: Dalrymple, Zummo, Lubert.
Goalies (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — Colorado: Soenksen (30-2-1), Gambitsky (30-3-1); St. Mary's: Sheehan (60-24-7).