LOS ANGELES - For the fourth time in its four seasons of existence, the Colorado women's lacrosse team ran into Stanford in the semifinals of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation tournament.
This time, the Buffaloes found a way to get past the Cardinal.
Sophomore Miranda Stinson scored five goals, including three in the final eight minutes, to lead the Buffs to a 14-13 victory at McAlister Field on Friday afternoon.
CU (16-2), which had its season end with losses to Stanford in the semifinals the previous three years, will face host Southern California in the MPSF championship on Sunday.
"We're really excited," CU head coach Ann Elliott said. "This is a position we've never been in before, to have the opportunity to play for the MPSF championship, and we're really excited about that.
"We're excited about how our kids fought. They battled a tough Stanford team, battled a lot of emotions and ups and downs and were able to make plays down the stretch when we needed to make the plays."
The Buffs, who were 0-6 against Stanford before this year, beat the Cardinal for the second time this season. They did it Friday by rallying in the second half.
Down 10-8 with under 15 minutes to play, the Buffs went on a 6-1 run to take a 14-11 lead into the final 1 minute, 50 seconds.
"That stretch was huge," Elliott said. "It could have gone either way for us. If they get another goal, things start to go down. Our girls did a great job battling on loose balls. I thought we did a very good job on draw controls."
Stinson tied the game at 11-11 with 7:45 to play and then added two more goals down the stretch.
"Offensively we talked about being aggressive all week and really for the last three weeks," Elliott said. "I think we were aggressive. I thought we moved the ball well and I thought we took advantage of opportunities when we had the space and I thought Miranda did a great job of doing that and being a leader and stepping up for us."
Johnna Fusco and Katie Macleay scored three goals each for the Buffs, while Cali Castagnola added a goal and two assists.
The Buffs will now face a USC team that handed them an 11-5 loss on April 14. The winner will get an automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament, although both teams are likely to advance.
"(Friday) was a tough game for us and they responded when they needed to respond and we have to build off of that mentality going into Sunday," Elliott said. "It's going to take twice as much as what we put in today. We'll get ready for that and see what we can do."