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CU Buffs lacrosse rallies past USC in Pac-12 tourney

Colorado to face Stanford in conference championship game

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STANFORD, Calif. – Colorado is heading to yet another conference title game in women’s lacrosse.

On Thursday night at Stanford Stadium, the Buffs rallied from a three-goal deficit in the second half and knocked off Southern California, 9-8.

Sadie Grozier scored three goals – including the 100th of her career – to lead the Buffs.

CU advanced to its fourth consecutive conference championship game. The third-seeded Buffs (8-6) will face top-seeded Stanford (10-0) on Saturday at 1 p.m. MT. Stanford defeated Arizona State, 18-11, in the other semifinal.

Against USC (9-7), the Buffs trailed 7-4 with less than 20 minutes to play, but Grozier sparked a 5-0 run.

A senior from Pleasanton, Calif., Grozier delivered her third goal of the game with 19 minutes, 33 seconds to go to pull the Buffs within 7-5.

Sydney Zimmerman, Zoe Lawless, Chloe Willard and Liz Phillips added goals in the next 11 minutes to give the Buffs a 9-7 lead.

While the offense kicked into gear, the Buffs’ defense was stellar in the second half. After USC took its 7-4 lead, the Trojans were scoreless for 21:32 until pulling within a goal in the final two minutes.

Devon Bayer forced a USC turnover with 21 seconds left to thwart the Trojans’ last scoring chance.

Goalkeeper Julia Lisella, named Pac-12 defensive player of the year this week, came through with 10 saves for the Buffs. Willard finished with two goals and an assist.

CU started hot, getting two goals from Grozier and one from Willard to take a 3-2 lead in the first 10 minutes.

USC then closed the half on a 4-0 run to take a 6-3 lead into intermission.

Morgan Pence scored just 36 seconds into the second half to snap CU’s scoreless streak at 20:46.

CU is the only team to reach all three Pac-12 championship games, also getting there in 2018 and 2019.  Prior to the Pac-12 sponsoring lacrosse in 2018, the Buffs played in the MPSF championship game in 2017. The Buffs are still seeking their first conference title, however.

Notable

CU out-shot the Trojans 13-9 in the second half, including an 11-7 advantage in shots on goal. … Grozier has 101 goals in her career, including 33 this season. … The Buffs played without leading scorer Charlie Rudy (45 goals), who was out with an injury. … CU lost its only meeting with Stanford, 10-9, in overtime on March 20. Stanford scored the last four goals of the game.

Colorado 9, USC 8

Goals – Colorado: Grozier 3, Willard 2, Lawless, Phillips, Pence, Zimmerman. USC: McMahon, Waters, Heaney, Huff, Tilton, Bakes, Ramsay, Sweitzer.

Assists – Colorado: Willard, Lawless, Phillips. USC: Waters, Heaney, Ueland.

Goalkeepers (goals against-saves) – Colorado: Lisella (8-10). USC: Hertford (9-6).

Shots – Colorado 18, USC 25.

Shots on goal – Colorado 15, USC 18

Fouls – Colorado 16, USC 15.

Turnovers – Colorado 18, USC 12.