Chances are the members of the 2017 Colorado women's lacrosse team won't be forgetting the thrills from a breakout season that put the program on the national map any time soon.
Yet that doesn't make the abrupt end to that season any less disappointing.
It took just four seasons for coach Ann Elliott to take the fledgling Buffaloes program to the NCAA Tournament, but unfortunately for CU it proved to be a short stay Friday in Philadelphia. Unable to turn the tide once UMass asserted control late in the first half, the Buffs' season ended with a 13-7 defeat in an opening-round showdown.
CU ends its fourth season with a 16-4 overall record while showing signs of a program still on the rise. For UMass the win was payback for a defeat the Minutewomen suffered at home against CU in the Buffs' second game of the season on Feb. 17.
"They're better than they were in February. We're better than we were in February," Elliott said. "It's a different game in May, and they're a very good team that is very well-coached. And they play very hard. Every year in the NCAA tourney they pull off big wins in big games. It's not a new stage for them, and I think because they're so well-coached they're ready for it."
The Buffs certainly didn't open the match like a team saddled by nerves in its first NCAA Tournament appearance. CU junior Darby Kiernan opened the scoring less than two minutes into the contest, and the Buffs eventually built a 5-3 lead at the 12 minute, 47 second mark of the first half.
From there, however, the match belonged to UMass. The Minutewomen began the turnaround by scoring the final three goals of the first half, the last of which gave UMass its first lead at 6-5 with 1:26 remaining before halftime.
UMass never trailed again. Another tally by Kiernan briefly tied the match at 6-6 early in the second half, but the Minutewomen promptly reeled off five consecutive goals to take control. Overall, CU was outscored 8-1 in a span of 20:26.
"UMass is a very scrappy team that comes up with ground balls, 50-50 balls," Elliott said. "They're very good in transition at pushing it and they executed very well on offense. I thought we did some things well but I think the execution part across the board wasn't enough.
"You've got to score goals to win and you've got to make stops to win. We got outplayed on some of those plays and we just got out-executed."
Kiernan supplied the bulk of CU's offense, recording three goals and two assists. The junior attacker ends the season with CU single-season records for assists (25) and points (77) while matching her 2015 record mark of 52 goals. Katie Macleay also scored three goals, but it wasn't enough to prevent the Buffs from enduring their third-lowest scoring output of the season.
"We have a lot to be proud of and we'll learn from this moving forward," Elliott said. "But right now we're just focused on celebrating what we've done these last four years with our senior class."
UMass 13, Colorado 7
At University of Pennsylvania
PhiladelphiaUMass (17-3)66—13Colorado (16-4)52—7
Goals — UMass: Turner 4, Burnett 4, Murphy 2, Anderson 2, Santos; Colorado: Kiernan 3, Macleay 3, Stinson.
Assists — UMass: Murphy 2, Santos 2, Turner 2, Lomanto, Walker, Doster; Colorado: Kiernan 2, Moore, Cox.
Goalies (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — UMass: Hiller (60-7-16); Colorado: Soenksen (60-13-7).