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Buffalos Fall In Battle Against USC

Mar 26, 2021
Senior Zoe Lawless led CU with a career-high five goals

LOS ANGELES – Colorado fell behind early and was never able to recover as it dropped an 18-12 decision against USC on Friday night at McAlister Field.
 
Each team recorded scoring runs of three of more goals, but in the end, it was the Trojans' 7-0 run to start the second half that was the barrier to the Buffs' comeback. Leading 9-6 after the first half, USC scored seven straight to take a 16-6 lead. The Buffs recorded their own run with six consecutive goals, cutting the advantage to four with just under 12 minutes to play.
 
But USC found its offense again after almost 13 minutes without a goal, scoring with 11:11 left to go ahead 17-12. The final USC marker came with just over four minutes to play, sealing the win for the Trojans.
 
"Credit to USC, they outplayed us today," Colorado coach Ann Elliott Whidden said. "We didn't show up to compete for a full 60 minutes. We have to take more pride in just competing every play. I am disappointed in that effort but I am very proud of our fight when we went down by 10. We could have given in and we didn't.
 
"Defensively we got a few stops, some man-down stops, and offensively we were able to make some plays. I liked our fight there, we just needed it for 60 minutes, not 30 minutes here and there. We have to play better team defense. We struggled with that today. That had been a strength the last few games and to be successful moving forward it has to be a constant for us. We will look at the film and see areas where we can tighten up defensively."
 
USC limited the Buffs' offense, holding them to just nine shots in the first half and 11 in the second. Conversely, the Trojans recorded 26 shots in the first half and had 17 in the second.
 
Senior Zoe Lawless led CU with a career-high five goals and junior Charlie Rudy recorded four goals in the effort as she was a perfect 2-2 on free-position opportunities. Senior Sadie Grozier recorded two points, one goal and one assist.
 
The Buffaloes are now 1-2 in Pac-12 play (3-4 overall), while USC is 2-1 in league play (5-3). CU will head to Tempe, Ariz. next to face Arizona State, which is 3-1 in conference play, on March 28.
 
"We have a huge game Sunday against an extremely well-coached, athletic and aggressive team in every sense of the word," Whidden said. "This is going to be a fight for us and all our focus needs to turn to ASU. They are one of the top teams in our conference and it will take everything we have to compete Sunday."
 
WHAT HAPPENED: USC got on the board in the first three minutes of the game, but Lawless evened it up for the Buffs at 23:22, recording her 10th goal of the season.
 
The Trojans then went on a 3-0 run before Rudy would convert on a free-position opportunity to cut the USC lead to a pair a little more than halfway through the frame. Lawless found the back of the net for the second time of the game two minutes after Rudy's goal, bringing the score within one.
 
But the Trojans pulled back away, recording another 3-0 run go up 7-3 with just over eight minutes left in the half. CU regrouped once again. Kate Burnside scored her first marker of the season at 6:40 off a quick pass from Grozier and 30 seconds later, Grozier scored her own unassisted goal, once again pulling the Buffs within a pair of the Trojans (7-5).
 
The Trojans scored another two goals before Rudy tallied her second of the game, another free-position goal, in the final minute of play, putting the Buffs within three at halftime (9-6).
 
Unfortunately for the Buffs, USC scored four quick goals in the first three minutes of the second half to go up 13-6, forcing Whidden to take a timeout at 27:46. The Trojans kept attacking and reached a 10-goal lead with 23:53 to play. It was short-lived though as Lawless recorded her third of the game at 22:06.
 
Lawless struck again less than 50 seconds later. USC's goaltender was attempting to pass and Lawless got a piece of it. She collected the rebound and found the back of the net to pull CU back within eight (16-8).
 
The momentum had shifted to the Buffs and Ashley Stokes scored her first of the game at 18:19 (16-9). Four minutes later, Rudy recorded a hat-trick to give the Buffs a 4-0 run, causing USC to take a timeout.  14:04
 
CU would score another pair as Lawless would get her fifth of the game and Rudy her fourth (16-12) before USC would be able to stop the run at 11:11. The Trojans added another maker at 4:07, which would again give USC a six-goal advantage.
 
The Buffaloes continued to fight, but were not able to get the momentum back and fell at McAlister Field, 18-12.
 
KEY STAT: USC was dominant on the draw controls in the first half and to start the second half, which limited CU's opportunities on offense. CU only recorded four draw controls in the first half, compared to 12 for the Trojans. The Buffs did better in the second half as each side recorded eight apiece.
 
NOTABLE:

  • Charlie Rudy has scored in 12 straight games dating back to the season opener of the 2020 season.
  • Rudy has recorded a hat-trick in six of the seven games this season (the only one she did not was against Louisville, the season-opener, when she scored two)
  • Sadie Grozier has recorded at least one point in each of CU's seven games this season.
  • Zoe Lawless has recorded three or more goals in three games this season
  • Lawless has recorded a career-best five points twice this season
  • Both teams recorded five assists and 14 ground balls

 
 
TEAM LEADERS:
 

Colorado USC
Points: 17 Points: 23
Goals: 12 Goals: 18
Assists: 5 Assists: 5
Draw Controls: 12 Draw Controls: 20
Ground Balls: 14 Ground Balls: 14
Saves: 9 Saves: 6

 
 
UP NEXT: The Buffs head to Tempe, Arizona, to face Arizona State on Sunday, March 28. The game is set to start at 2 p.m. MDT.