In its first home game of the season at Kittredge Field, the University of Colorado lacrosse team recovered from back-to-back losses with a 14-7 win against the No. 14 Denver Pioneers on Sunday. The Big East preseason favorite Pioneers are studded with six preseason All-Big East players, but the balanced Colorado attack overcame the talented Denver roster.
Even in warm-ups, it was clear that the Buffaloes were energized and excited to play.
“We haven’t played here (Boulder) in a year,” said senior captain and attacker Sadie Grozier. “Being able to play in front of our friends and family is something we’ve been waiting for for a really long time.”
Fueled by the excitement of playing on their home turf, the Buffalos came out of the gate with a red-hot start. With the help of strong physical defense combined with excellent goaltending by senior Julia Lisella, the Buffalos were able to capitalize on their early opportunities and jump out to a 6-2 lead with 4:10 remaining in the first half.
Stout defense by Denver’s star defender Molly Little helped the Pioneers crawl back into the game with two late first-half goals but CU still led 6-4 heading into halftime.
Colorado started the second half strong with an early goal from Grozier, her third of the game. Down 7-4 early in the second half, the Pioneers started to gain more control of the ball and clawed their way back into the game with two goals to cut their deficit to 7-6 with 21:24 remaining in the game.
Despite the shift in momentum, Colorado held firm as freshman midfielder Morgan Pence netted her first career goal. At the 19-minute mark, the Pioneer’s push persisted as they were able to pull within one point as Eliza Radochonski netted a goal.
After some physical back-and-forth play, the Buffs’ three-headed offensive monster in Grozier, junior Charlie Rudy, and senior Zoe Lawless were able to help CU pull away. In the final ten minutes of the game, Lawless netted three goals to go along with scores by Grozier, Rudy, and Pence.
When the final horn sounded, the Buffalos celebrated their first victory of the season with a 14-7 win. Grozier finished the game with four goals, Lawless and Rudy had three and Pence scored her first two of her career. Colorado finished the game with 28 shots compared to Denver’s 20, and CU won the faceoff battle 14-10.
“Hopefully for us, it (this win) simply shows us that if we commit to doing the little things and the simple things we ask (of) them every day in practice, we can be very successful,” said head coach Ann Elliott Whidden. “We’ve got a long way to go and a tough schedule ahead of us, but I think that if we learn that lesson from this, we’re going to be able to get better and better each day.”
Next up for the Buffs will be the Oregon Ducks on March 12 at 3:00 p.m. MST at Kittredge Field.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Matthew Gillen at firstname.lastname@example.org.