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Strong Second Half Pushes Buffs Past No. 14 Pioneers

Feb 28, 2021
Colorado celebrates after scoring a goal on Sunday against #14 Denver

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BOULDER – Playing at home for the first time in almost a year can be a big motivator, especially when playing an in-state rival. Colorado lacrosse was able to draw on that motivation and defeated the 14th-ranked Denver Pioneers, 14-7, on Sunday afternoon at Kittredge Field.
The win was the first for the Buffs this season and it could not have come at a better time after a pair of losses to open the season last weekend. After today's win, CU will be off until March 12, when it will open Pac-12 Conference play against Oregon.
"This is a great opportunity for us and this is our home field, and to be successful this year we have to be able to play at home and step on this field with confidence," head coach Ann Elliott Whidden said. "I think we lacked that a little bit last week, confidence and purpose, and I thought they stepped on the field today with that."
The Buffs never trailed in the game and had a 6-4 lead at halftime. But the difference came in the second half, which helped the Buffs pull away from a tough Denver team. CU outscored DU 8-3 and outshot the Pioneers 14-6. 
"We didn't shoot well last weekend, so, we've worked on all of that in practice," Whidden said. "I think the real commitment is they've tried to work on things outside of practice and that's the difference. You know they got to get out here on their own, with our staff, and work on these little things." 
Colorado was also dominant on the draw controls, winning nine of the 12 in the second half.
Denver is 0-1 after the loss to CU. This was the first of two meetings for the two as they will face off once more on April 29 in Denver.
WHAT HAPPENED: The Buffaloes, but came out strong, scoring the first three markers of the game. Senior Sadie Grozier scored first (25:36) with a free-position goal. Charlie Rudy thought she had the second goal of the game less than 30 seconds later after converting on another free-position attempt, but her stick was ruled illegal. That did not stop the junior and at 24:19, she scored a goal off a pass from Zoe Lawless, giving the Buffs the 2-0 lead.
Freshman Ashley Stokes put the Buffs up by three less than a minute later with her second goal of the season, CU's second free-position marker of the game.
Denver would get on the board at 17:47 as Bea Behrins snuck a shot past Julia Lisella. But Behrins' goal was offset a short time later as she was issued a yellow card for slashing at 12:45 on a CU clear. Grozier converted on a free-position attempt at 12:17 for the man-up goal, giving CU a three-goal advantage once again.
With just under 10 minutes to play in the half, junior Chloe Willard gave CU its fifth goal of the game (5-1) with an assist from Stokes.
The Buffs continued to make the Pioneers pay for their yellow cards. Anna Palmisano was issued one at 5:05 and at 4:10, Rudy scored her third man-up goal of the season, which was also her third goal of the game (6-2).
Denver scored a pair of goals in the final 90 seconds to bring the Pioneers within two before intermission (6-4), including one with five seconds left on the clock.
Grozier scored the first goal of the second half, another free-position goal, to give the Buffs a 7-4 lead, but DU was staying close and recorded the next two markers before the first 10 minutes of the half were over, cutting CU's lead to one.
Freshman Morgan Pence scored her first career goal at 20:32, converting on yet another free-position opportunity for the Buffs (8-6). In the back-and-forth content, the Pioneers answered back with a goal 90 seconds later, but that would end up being the final goal for DU as the Buffs would keep the Pioneers off the board the final 19 minutes of the game.  
Colorado would score six unanswered goals to close out the game, including three more man-up goals on Denver yellow cards. Lawless had three of those six goals for her fifth career hat-trick and Pence scored her second career goal. Rudy and Grozier scored the other two goals for the Buffs.
"I think our biggest focus was just being a little more disciplined, really committing to our offense and defense and focusing on the little things in those areas, and we struggled with that last weekend," Whidden said. "I thought we did a pretty good job here today, you know, a few minutes there in the second half we lost it but in general they rebounded really well and did well."
TEAM SINGLE GAME RECORD: The five man-up goals scored in the game by the Buffs is a CU single-game record. The previous record was four, which the Buffs had done three times before Sunday's game.
MAN-UP GOALS: The Buffs have been successful on man-up opportunities this season. Charlie Rudy has recorded a pair of man-up goals in two games, once against Louisville and once against Denver. Zoe Lawless scored a pair of man-up goals against Denver as well. Those two man-up goal games are tied for second in CU single-game history.
KEY STATISTIC: Colorado made the most of its free-position opportunities, going 5-8. The Buffs made all three in the first half and were 2-5 in the second half.
Another area the Buffs did well was on defense, holding Denver to just six shots in the second half. Only five of the shots made it on goal, with Lisella saving two and three making it past her.  

  • CU is now 6-2 in home openers and is 3-4 in the all-time series against DU which includes a 2-2 record at Kittredge Field
  • This is CU's first win against a top-25 team since May 10, 2019, when the Buffs defeated No. 18 Dartmouth in the first round of the NCAA Tournament
  • The Buffs are 44-5 when allowing 5-9 goals
  • Morgan Pence scored her first career goal
  • Zoe Lawless recorded her fifth career hat-trick – in fact, every time she scores a goal, she scores three
  • Charlie Rudy has scored in eight straight games dating back to the season opener of the 2020 season


Colorado Denver
Points: 21 Points: 8
Goals: 14 Goals: 7
Assists: 7 Assists: 1
Draw Controls: 14 Draw Controls: 10   
Ground Balls: 18 Ground Balls: 15
Saves: 6 Saves: 5