Johnna Fusco’s return sparks CU Buffs lacrosse rout of Fresno State

  • Paul Aiken / Staff Photographer

    Colorado's Johnna Fusco, left, fights Fresno State's Kayla Galet for a loose ball during their game at Kittredge Field in Boulder on Saturday. Colorado won 19-6.

  • Paul Aiken / Staff Photographer

    Colorado's Samantha Nemirov, right, tries to get around Fresno State's Marina Mayo during their game Saturday at Kittredge Field.




Johnna Fusco hasn’t missed many games since joining the University of Colorado lacrosse program.

Until last week, that number was just three missed games out of 62 since the start of her freshman season in 2014. Fusco nearly doubled that total last week, missing a pair of victories against Winthrop and Oregon due to an injury.

Cleared to return to action Saturday morning, Fusco made the most of her comeback just a few hours later while leading the nationally-ranked Buffaloes to a 19-6 rout of Fresno State in a Mountain Pacific Sports Federation match at Kittredge Field.

Despite minimal practice time this week, Fusco led another offensive onslaught for the Buffs by matching a career-high with five goals. She reached that total on three previous occasions, most recently in a win against the University of Denver on March 3.

Fusco also matched a single-game goal-scoring high for CU’s fourth-year program, posting the team’s 13th five-goal game.

“I was very, very antsy to get back out here,” Fusco said. “Not having a stick in my hands for two weeks, that was a long time. I practiced once full contact and I didn’t have the greatest practice. It’s really thanks to my teammates. They set me up in the right position, and I was just in the right place at the right time. It’s really thanks to them.”

The Buffs faced little resistance from Fresno State while improving to 10-0 overall and 3-0 in the MPSF.

Head coach Ann Elliott expressed a moderate level of displeasure on the heels of CU’s previous win, a 16-11 decision last week against Oregon, when the Buffs coasted somewhat down the stretch of a game they had well in hand. CU didn’t make the same mistake Saturday against the Bulldogs, taking a 7-1 lead while chasing starting Fresno goalie Laurel Maunder within the first 10 and a half minutes.

The Buffs led 13-3 at halftime and continued to bury the Bulldogs after the break, answering a quick Fresno goal with six in a row before the visiting Bulldogs added a couple of aesthetic tallies in the final minute.

“I think overall we did a better job than (against Oregon) as a full effort,” Elliott said. “But we have to do a better job offensively finishing our opportunities and controlling the game down the stretch. I thought defensively, outside a few mental lapses I thought we did a good job.”

Per usual, Fusco enjoyed plenty of help on the CU attack, with 10 different players recording goals. Katie Macleay scored three goals for the fifth time this season, while Darby Kiernan posted two goals and three assists. Starting goalie Paige Soenksen needed to make only two saves in the first half before giving way to Sophia Gambitsky for the final 30 minutes.

As the Buffs hit the road during spring break week, they do so with only one home game remaining — an April 7 date against Stanford that could help decide the MPSF championship. CU plays at Delaware on Wednesday before visiting top-10 Stony Brook on Friday.

“Definitely a very important week we have coming up,” CU senior Cali Castagnola said. “We’re getting toward the end of our season and we have to keep it going strong.”

Pat Rooney: or

Colorado 19, Fresno State 6

At Kittredge Field

Fresno State (7-3, 0-2) 3 3—6

Colorado (10-0, 3-0) 13 6—19

Goals — Fresno State: Wallace 3, Bloise, Mayo, Ortlieb; Colorado: Fusco 5, Macleay 3, Kiernan 2, Castagnola 2, Nemirov 2, Stinson, Cox, Moore, Sisk, Salvadore.

Assists — Fresno State: Bloise 2, Galet, Wallace; Colorado: Kiernan 3, Macleay 2, Cox, Stinson.

Goalies (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — Fresno State: Maunder (10-7-4), Chaffin (50-12-15); Colorado: Soenksen (30-3-2), Gambitsky (30-3-2).