Seniors Lead Buffs In Comeback Against USC
BOULDER – Down 11-6 with 25:42 to play in the second half, the Colorado lacrosse team scored seven unanswered goals to finish the game and upended USC 13-11 on Friday afternoon.
"Our team has been in this situation time and time again, and we made our way partway back and we hadn't been able to finish since the beginning of the season at Louisville, this has been a theme for us," Colorado coach Ann Elliott Whidden said. "It's about them going out there and actually making the plays at the moment, them trusting each other and themselves, and being aggressive. I thought when we did that we did well on both ends of the field and we need to be able to do that consistently."
CU moved its senior recognition to after the game Friday and whether it served as extra motivation or not, the seniors were a huge part of the comeback, playing a part in six of the seven goals in the 7-0 run. Sadie Grozier recorded three goals and one assist in that span, while Zoe Lawless had two goals.
Overall, Grozier led both teams with five goals and had six points with her assist. Lawless recorded three goals and freshman Morgan Pence added two goals, including the game-winner on a free-position opportunity.
And then there was the strong play in the second half by CU's defense, holding the Trojans to just 10 shots and only seven of those got on goal. Julia Lisella stopped four, while only three made it through.
"We have a huge senior class with 11 and they are such a huge part of this team, leadership, and talent-wise," Whidden said. "When they come to play, when they get confident, and when they believe in themselves, they are really good. When we struggle a little bit with the confidence piece we struggle a little bit as a team. We came out here today focused, they were able to get energy from each other, and again when the confidence builds when we are aggressive, we are a pretty good team."
This is the first time since March 9, 2018, that the Buffs have comeback after being down by seven goals. The last time was against Stanford and the Buffs won that game 18-16.
Colorado improves to 4-5 overall and is 2-3 in Pac-12 play while USC is now 6-4, 3-2.
WHAT HAPPENED: The Trojans scored the first goal of the game at 26:24 but Pence evened it up a minute later for the Buffs. However, USC would score three goals in three minutes to take a 4-1 advantage before the first 10 minutes of the game had expired.
Grozier scored the second marker for the Buffs on a free-position opportunity at 16:02. After USC recorded its fifth of the game Charlie Rudy would find the back of the net on a free-position goal at 10:39 to bring the Buffs within two.
The Trojans scored another pair close together before Grozier and Lawless would each score unassisted goals (7-5). USC closed out the first half with a goal at 2:33 for a three-goal lead heading into halftime.
As the second half started, CU came out firing. Ashley Stokes was awarded a free-position shot at 29:16 and converted, cutting USC's lead to a pair. The Trojans put together three quick goals at 28:25, 26:54 and 25:42 to take a seven-goal lead, but that would be the end of their scoring.
CU would start to chip away at USC's lead, starting with a goal from Chloe Willard off a pass from Grozier at 24:09. Then at 21:47, Lawless found the back of the net for the second time of the day and CU was within three.
Grozier would score the next three on her own. Her third of the day was at 16:33 and her fourth came three minutes later. Her fifth, which was the game-tying goal, was at 12:21.
The momentum has swung to the Buffs and not even two minutes later, Pence converted on a free-position opportunity to put the Buffs ahead for the first time in the game.
The two sides kept battling, but it was clear things had moved in CU's favor and with 3:43 left to play, Lawless scored the 13th goal of the game, which sealed the win for the Buffs.
KEY STATS: Colorado's draw control put the team in a position to control this game. CU won 12 draw controls, compared to USC's 14, but was an improvement from last weekend.
"Last weekend we struggled at USC, we struggled at ASU, we knew we had to get better," Whidden said. "Nicole works with them a lot and on strategy. I think we have competitors, I think Kate Burnside is a competitor, she learns from the previous games, she learns about the draw and she comes out there with confidence and competes. I thought our circle people did well as well and that was huge for us."
- Charlie Rudy has scored in 14 straight games dating back to the season opener of the 2020 season.
- Sadie Grozier has recorded at least one point in each of CU's nine games this season.
- Grozier tied a career-high with five goals and six points against USC. This is the third time she has scored five goals in a game.
- Zoe Lawless recorded the seventh hat-trick of her career with three goals against the Trojans.
- This is the first game this season where the opponent has scored first and the Buffaloes have come back to win.
- CU's first lead was 12-11 with 10:51 to play in the second half.
|Points: 16||Points: 14|
|Goals: 13||Goals: 11|
|Assists: 3||Assists: 3|
|Draw Controls: 12||Draw Controls: 14|
|Ground Balls: 13||Ground Balls: 13|
|Saves: 13||Saves: 9|
UP NEXT: Colorado wraps up its regular season home schedule with a conference game against Arizona State on Sunday, April 4, at 1 p.m. at Kittredge Field.