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Buffs Comeback Falls Short Against Cardinals In Season-Opener

Feb 18, 2021

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The Colorado lacrosse team fell behind in the first half and, despite a rally in the second half, were not able to overcome the first half deficit, falling 12-9 on Thursday in the 2021 season-opener against Louisville at U of L Stadium.
 
"Obviously this was not the result we were hoping for," head coach Ann Elliott Whidden said. "You try to get all the rust off in practice and put your team in a game-like atmosphere but it's hard to simulate. Every possession is important and the small plays win the games.
 
This was the second game of the season for the Cardinals as they opened their season on February 13, with a 14-7 loss against No. 14 Florida.
 
"We had a slow start, and Louisville took advantage," Whidden said. "They outworked us on the little things and capitalized on their opportunities, where we did not. Now we remember what this feels like to play after a year."
 
The Buffaloes seemed to get more aggressive in the second half after they got used to playing again. They scored four goals in the first and five in the second half, but they also limited the Cardinals' opportunities in the second half, allowing them to score half of what they scored in the first frame (8-4).  
 
"At the end of the day, this team has worked too hard to get here and sacrificed too much for us to hang our heads," Whidden said. "You saw in that second half what we are capable of offensively and defensively. We have a lot of potential and we need to build off of that. We know we have to get better in areas - our shooting has to be better, we have to be more aggressive on ground balls; and while we had a great first half on the draw, we struggled in the second half when we needed it. We will continue to focus on these areas and we will bounce back. This is a great group, we learned a lot about ourselves today and we will be ready on Sunday."
                                                                                                                                     
WHAT HAPPENED: Louisville struck first, less than 90 seconds into the game. Colorado responded with goals from Liz Phillips and Devon Bayer to take a 2-1 lead.
 
The back-and-forth battle would continue for a bit with the Cardinals answering back with two goals of their goal to retake the lead with just over 20 minutes remaining in the first half. Sadie Grozier, who scored a team-high four markers for the Buffs, tallied her first at 19:25 to even the game at 3-3. But it was the last time the score would be tied as the Cardinals again strung a pair of back-to-back goals together to go up 5-3.
 
With 15:00 gone from the first half, Charlie Rudy would find the back of the net to bring CU within a goal. It was the last goal the Buffs would score in the half before Louisville added another three to end the half 8-4.
 
The Cardinals started the scoring in the second half with a pair of goals at 28:36 and 27:04, taking a 10-4 lead. Rudy started CU's run at a comeback, finding the back of the net for the second time of the day at 23:13. Grozier scored the next three goals for a national hat-trick to get the Buffs back within two goals (10-8) with 17:35 left to play.
 
Louisville ended CU's 4-0 run at 13:41with Caroline Blalock's third goal of the day, a man-up, free-position goal, and Alex McNicholas added another marker at 11:01 to put the Cardinals back up by four (12-8).
 
The Buffs kept attacking and did not give up. Phillips found the back of the net for the second time of the day after a great pass from Ashley Stokes with 8:45 left on the clock.
 
From that point, both goalies and defenses prevented either team from scoring and Louisville hung on for the win. Julia Lisella made 12 saves for CU, seven in the first half and five in the second half, while Rachel Florek had eight saves in the first half and one in the second for the Cardinals.
 
KEY STATISTIC: The Buffs were unable to take advantage of their free-position opportunities. CU converted on one of seven in the first half with Bayer's goal six minutes into the game and scored twice on four attempts in the second half.  
 
NOTABLE:

  • This was the first meeting between the two teams
  • This was the first career start for Zoe Lawless and the first CU start for Kate White

 
TEAM LEADERS:
 

Colorado Louisville
Points: 11 Points: 18
Goals: 9 Goals: 12
Assists: 2 Assists: 6
Draw Controls: 13 Draw Controls: 10    
Ground Balls: 17 Ground Balls: 20
Saves: 12 Saves: 9

 
UP NEXT: Colorado heads to Nashville, Tenn. to face Vanderbilt University on Sunday, February 21. That game is set to begin at 10 a.m. MT. and has been moved to the David Williams II Recreation and Wellness Center due to weather. It will still be streamed online.