Buffs Advance To Pac-12 Championship Game
STANFORD, Calif. – Colorado senior Sadie Grozier recorded a hat-trick, which included her 100th career goal, and helped the Buffaloes record a second-half comeback to defeat Southern California, 9-8, on Thursday night in the semifinals of the Pac-12 Lacrosse Tournament at Stanford Stadium.
CU (8-6) will face Stanford (10-0), which is the top seed and is currently ranked 13th in the IWLCA Coaches Poll. The Cardinal defeated Arizona State, 18-11, in the first semifinal of the day.
The Buffs were playing without Charlie Rudy, but multiple players stepped up, especially in the second half where CU had six different players score. Grozier led the Buffs with three goals; two came in the first half and one was in the second half. Chloe Willard recorded a pair for CU and had one in each half.
Julia Lisella recorded 10 saves, five in each half, for a 55.6 saves percentage.
USC is now 9-7 overall after finishing the conference season 6-3.
"It was an exciting game," head coach Ann Elliott Whidden said. "We knew going into it that this would be a battle. USC has been playing very well and both teams knew this could be our last game if we didn't win. I am really proud of this group. All year it has been a battle for us and each time they have risen to the occasion and fought their way back.
"Tonight I think we played for each other and made plays for each other. When something didn't go our way, the next person stepped up to get it back. We are excited to compete for a championship Saturday. Stanford is a great team, well coached and is playing well. We know it will be another battle and we look forward to the opportunity to compete in the Pac-12 Championship again."
WHAT HAPPENED: USC won the opening draw and recorded the first shot of the game. But Lisella started the game with a stop to put the Buffs on offense. CU charged down the field and Zoe Lawless found an open Willard in front of the cage. Willard took a step, fired and found the back of the net at 28:20 to get on the board first.
The Trojans tied the game up less than a minute later but found themselves short-handed after Kelsey Huff was issued a yellow card at 25:28. CU has been making opponents pay this season in that position and tonight's game was no different. Grozier converted on a free-position opportunity 30 seconds later to give CU a 2-1 advantage.
The game was tied again 2-2 after USC's Huff scored her only goal of the game at (24:19). The back-and-forth continued as Grozier once again converted on a free-position attempt, scoring the 100th goal of her career at 20:10.
The Trojans recorded the next four goals and held the Buffs scoreless for the rest of the first half to take a 6-3 lead into the second half.
The Buffs got the scoring started in the second half with a goal from Morgan Pence off a pass from Liz Phillips with just over 30 seconds played in the frame.
USC answered back again, but the Buffs continued to work and Grozier scored her third goal of the game with 20 minutes left in the half to once again bring CU within two a pair. Then 90 seconds later, Willard, who was in transition, found Sydney Zimmerman open inside the arc and Zimmerman scored her second goal of the season to cut USC's lead to one (7-6).
Good things come to those who wait, and Lawless, who had already assisted on one goal, scored her first goal of the game to even the score at 7-7 with just under 14:00 to play.
The Buffs added another pair of goals to take their largest lead of the game. Willard scored her second of the game to give CU the lead at 9:58 and then Phillips converted on a free-position opportunity at 8:25 for her first goal of the contest.
After holding the Trojans scoreless for 22 minutes, USC ended the Buffs 5-0 run with a marker at 1:42. The Trojans had the ball and were attacking in the final minute of the game, but Devon Bayer made a huge play, forcing a turnover with 20 seconds remaining. CU was able to run the clock out and move on to the championship game.
NOTABLE STATS: Sadie Grozier recorded the 100th career goal of her career. She is now the fifth Buff to record 100 or more career goals at CU. The other four Buffs are Darby Kiernan (210), Johnna Fusco (172), Miranda Stinson (171) and Cali Castagnola (108).
- Grozier recorded her fifth man-up goal of the season, tying Charlie Rudy for the team-high this season.
- The five man-up goals for each this season are tied for second in single-season history for the Buffs.
- Her nine career man-up goals are tied for fourth in program history.
- Grozier has played in 13 of CU's 14 games this season and has scored at least one point in each game played.
- She has scored three or more goals 15 times in her career, including seven times this year.
- Zoe Lawless extended her scoring streak to 13 games.
- USC's Kelsey Huff, the 2021 Pac-12 Midfielder of the Year, recorded a pair of yellow cards in the first half (25:26 and 19:00), only playing in 11 minutes of the game.
- Colorado is 5-1 when scoring first this season.
- Lisella, the 2021 Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, recorded 10 saves in the game, marking the 29th time in her career she has made 10 or more saves in a single game.
- CU was 4-6 on free-position attempts. Conversely, USC was 1-8 on its opportunities.
|Points: 12||Points: 11|
|Goals: 9||Goals: 8|
|Assists: 3||Assists: 3|
|Draw Controls: 9||Draw Controls: 10|
|Ground Balls: 18||Ground Balls: 18|
|Saves: 10||Saves: 6|
UP NEXT: The Buffs will play Stanford in the Pac-12 Tournament Championship game on Saturday at 1 p.m. MT.