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Long rest period does no good for CU lacrosse

Buffs drop home game against Michigan

Colorado's Madeline Pisani, left, works against Michigan's Josie Gooch during Friday's game in Boulder. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)
Colorado’s Madeline Pisani, left, works against Michigan’s Josie Gooch during Friday’s game in Boulder. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

The Colorado lacrosse team reached an inflection point Friday that was unexpected at such an early point in the season.

In an afternoon matchup against No. 21 Michigan at Kittredge Field, the Buffaloes came up short in a 12-5 loss.

Now 0-4 on the season, their winless streak to open the campaign added to the dubious distinction of the longest winless streak in program annals. Going back to their final game of last season, the Buffaloes have lost five straight.

It was a game that never felt close despite the Buffs being down only one goal midway through the second period. The Colorado defense had no answer for Wolverines midfielder Jill Smith, who scored five goals and added two assists.

“We didn’t execute our game plan too well at all,” CU head coach Ann Elliot Whidden said after the game. “Losing 12-5 feels like 20-2. I think they gave up at the end. We all gave up a little bit. We have to think of who we want to be because, at the moment, we’re on track to being 0-16. We’re not getting better every day. We’re not getting better on game days. And that’s a problem.”

It was a tight start to the game, with no team able to break the seal until Michigan’s Erin Garvey scored with 4 minutes, 18 seconds to play in the first period. Smith added another about a minute later to give Michigan a 2-0 going to the second period.

After taking most of the first quarter off because of a collision that forced her to go into concussion protocol, Colorado’s Charlie Rudy scored twice in the second period, and back-to-back goals from Rudy and Sam McGee brought the Buffaloes to a manageable 4-3 deficit.

BOULDER,CO: March 2:Colorado' Rachel Kennedy, left, looks to score pastMaya Rutherford, center, and Maya Santa-Maria, of Michigan, in women's lacrosse on March 2, 2023.(Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)
Colorado’s Rachel Kennedy, left, looks to score as Michigan’s Maya Rutherford, center, and Maya Santa-Maria, defend on Friday in Boulder. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

That was as close as they would come.

Two goals by Smith in the final five minutes of the half gave the Wolverines a 6-3 halftime advantage. A goal by Liz Phillips early in the third period gave CU hope, but the three Michigan goals that followed extinguished any comeback. After McGee scored her second goal with five minutes left in the third, Michigan closed the doors on Colorado’s offensive output as they were held scoreless in the fourth.

Colorado recorded 34 shots, but only 15% of those shots turned into goals compared to Michigan’s 48% shot conversion rate on only 25 attempts. Lackluster offensive output combined with the Buffs’ 20 turnovers to the Wolverines’ eight put Colorado in an impossible position to win.

For Whidden and her staff, changes could be coming in how their game next Saturday at Ohio State gets managed.

“I believe in our players,” Whidden said. “But we’re not getting it done right now, so something has to change. We can’t keep doing the same thing. If changing things means clearing the bench and putting on younger kids and the kids practicing hard and seeing if we can get a different result or bring them along to hope for a difference later on, then we’ll have to do that.”