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TEMPE, Ariz. – A furious fourth-quarter rally wasn’t nearly enough for the Colorado women’s lacrosse team to avoid a surprising and disappointing defeat.

In the quarterfinals of the Pac-12 Tournament on Wednesday, the Buffaloes were stunned by Oregon, 14-10.

“This is a special group that I really thought was ready and they weren’t,” said CU head coach Ann Elliott Whidden, whose team had been 13-0 all-time against the Ducks before Wednesday. “Obviously as the head coach, that’s on me. You don’t lose a game like this without the responsibility falling on the person that’s in charge and that’s on me to try to figure out why we didn’t step on the field and play to the ability that we are capable of playing.”

Losing to the Ducks (4-13) likely puts an end to the NCAA Tournament hopes for the Buffs (11-6), who were on the bubble for the 29-team field, coming in at No. 30 in the RPI.

“I think there’s no shot; that’s my opinion,” Elliott Whidden said. “Oregon is a good team and they’ve competed in the Pac-12, but when it comes to NCAAs, this was a bad loss for us. … I would be surprised if we get another chance after this.”

Against the Ducks, Sadie Grozier had four goals, while Charlie Rudy and Madeline Pisani each had two, but the Buffs couldn’t avoid the earliest conference tournament exit in the nine-year history of the program. The Buffs, who had been to four consecutive championship games, had never lost before the semifinals.

Oregon, which snapped a seven-game losing streak, took control with a 9-0 run in the second quarter. Lillian Stump and Katie Collins each scored twice in that surge, which gave the Ducks an 11-2 lead.

“We couldn’t get stops defensively,” Elliott Whidden said. “Offensively when we did get the ball, we got some good opportunities, but we couldn’t finish. Their goalie (Cassidy Eckert) played well, we missed the net a lot, we took some bad shots. If you can’t score goals and you can’t stop people it’s hard to get any momentum.”

CU closed the gap to 11-4 by halftime, but Oregon took a 13-4 lead midway through the third quarter. CU then went on a 6-1 run the rest of the way, pulling within 14-10 with 7 minutes, 8 seconds to go, but couldn’t score again.

Statistically, CU won a lot of categories, including shots (41-26), shots on goal (23-20) and draw controls (16-12). Oregon, however, was better at capitalizing on its opportunities and never trailed. CU out-shot the Ducks 16-3 in the fourth quarter.

The Buffs brought momentum into the Pac-12 Tournament, which is hosted by Arizona State. In their last two games of the regular season, the Buffs routed Oregon 23-12 on April 22 and upset 10th-ranked Denver on April 27.

“It’s sad for this to come to the end after I thought we had a good couple of weeks (leading into the tournament) and we really believed we could win this tournament,” Elliott Whidden said. “To not make it past the first game is obviously sad and disappointing.”

Notes

Oregon’s 9-0 run was the second-largest allowed by CU this year. On March 13, on this same field, the Buffs gave up a 10-0 run in a 20-6 loss at ASU. … CU was aiming for its largest-ever comeback win. The Buffs’ biggest comeback remains an 18-16 win against Stanford on March 9, 2018, when they trailed by seven goals at one point. … CU is 7-8 all-time in conference tournaments. The Buffs had been 1-1 in each of their previous seven conference tournaments.

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