In just a few short days, the Colorado women’s lacrosse team turned a frustrating start to the season overall into an encouraging start in Pac-12 Conference play.
Less than 48 hours after knocking off No. 21 Stanford, the Buffaloes completed a Pac-12-opening home sweep by crushing California on Sunday, defeating the Golden Bears 20-3 at Kittredge Field.
After losing the first four contests of the season for the first time in program history, Sunday’s victory was the third in a row for the resurgent Buffs, who also improved to 2-0 in the Pac-12. CU lost its first two matches against Cal in 2014 and 2015, but Sunday’s victory was CU’s 11th in a row against the Golden Bears.
“We made a couple changes in terms of the lineup, but overall, our players are just buying into doing the little things that are making the bigger plays come a little bit easier for us on both ends of the field,” said CU head coach Ann Elliott Whidden, who earned the 100th win of her career with Friday’s victory against Stanford.
“We’ve been talking a lot about being disciplined, which is doing those little things, committing to them throughout and being aggressive at the same time. I think we’re starting to understand the balance there, which is helping us.”
CU jumped to a 3-0 lead in the first two and half minutes of the match and never looked back, surging ahead 12-2 at halftime and 13-3 at the end of the third quarter.
Cal (3-6, 1-2 Pac-12) won 13-12 at Oregon on Friday but ran out of gas in Boulder, managing just nine shots on goal against the Buffs’ defense. Ashley Stokes paced CU’s attack with four goals and two assists, while Charlie Rudy and Sam McGee recorded three goals apiece. Rudy also posted a pair of assists, while Liz Phillips (three goals), Madeline Pisani (two goals, one assist) and Zoe McElhaney (two goals) all tallied multiple points for the Buffs.
Goalie Grace Donnelly needed to make just four saves before giving way to Danielle Heintz for the bulk of the second half. Playing their third match in eight days, Elliott Whidden was able to substitute liberally after halftime.
The Buffs will attempt to take their sudden hot streak on the road with their first conference road trip of the season, which begins on Friday at No. 18 USC (4 p.m. MT, Pac-12 Networks).
“Our team practices hard weekly. Our scout team does a really good job of preparing us and competing and I thought they were all ready to compete today,” Whidden said. “They showed up and again, continued that balance of discipline and aggressiveness and trying to take advantage of some of their opportunity. So I was proud of them today.
“(USC) is going to be a tough challenge for us, but I think if we can keep our confidence up from these last three games, continue to commit to those little things and find that balance I think it should be a good, hard fought game, and hopefully come down to the 60 minutes and see who’s on top then.”
Colorado 20, California 3
Cal 0 2 1 0 — 3
CU 5 7 3 5 — 20
Goals — Cal: Morse, Lawliss, Wong. Colorado: Stokes 4, Rudy 3, McGee 3, Phillips 3, Pisani 2, McElhaney 2, Assini, Kennedy, Carson.
Assists — Cal: Mason, Morse. Colorado: Pence 3, Rudy 2, Stokes 2, Halus, Pisani.
Goalies (Min.-goals allowed-saves) — Cal: Souliotis (46-15-9); Drullinger (14-5-2). Colorado: Donnelly (32-2-4); Heintz (28-1-2).