Colorado and Stanford Set For Rematch in Pac-12 Title Game
BOULDER — Since the Buffaloes lost 10-9 in overtime to Stanford on March 20 in Boulder in the Pac-12 Conference lacrosse opener, CU has been waiting for a rematch.
The conference schedule is set up so that each team plays twice, once at home and once on the road. But this year with COVID-19 protocols and cancelations, that was not always the case. When it was time for the rematch in Stanford, Calif., the Cardinal had to cancel due to those protocols, leaving the only way for a possible match-up between the two in the Pac-12 Tournament.
That is exactly what has happened and the conference championship is on the line as the two programs will meet in the title game for the second time in three years (there was no conference tournament in 2020) on Saturday, May 8, at 1 p.m. at Stanford, Stadium.
"Obviously no one wants to miss a conference game in regular season," head coach Ann Elliott Whidden said. "Our message at the time was, we control what we can control and if we do that we will get a rematch in the tournament. We have done that and we are excited about this opportunity to play Stanford again."
The Cardinal is the only ranked team in the Pac-12 and is currently 13th in the IWLCA Poll. Stanford has recorded a 10-0 record and finished conference play 7-0 to earn the top seed in the tournament. In the first semi, the Cardinal downed Arizona State 18-11 to advance to the finals.
Colorado entered the tournament as the No. 3 seed and played No. 2 USC. After trailing 6-3 at halftime, the Buffs rallied back to defeat the Trojans for the second time this season. CU used a 5-0 run to take a 9-7 lead with just over eight minutes to play in the game. USC recorded a goal with less than two minutes to play, but CU's defense held strong and the Buffs hung on for the win.
This is the second time the two teams will meet in the conference championship game as they faced off in 2018, the inaugural year of the event. That season Stanford came away with the tournament title after CU won the regular season title. The Buffs are the only team that has played in all three Pac-12 championship games.
The winner of this game is guaranteed a spot in the NCAA Tournament as the conference's automatic berth. Without the win, either team will have to wait and see if the NCAA selection committee would extend an at-large berth during the NCAA Selection Show on Sunday, May 9, at 7 p.m. ET, on EPSNU.
"[Stanford] They are a great team, talent and play makers in every position and they find a way to win," Whidden said. "All season they have been tested and found a way to get it done. A testament to their coaching. Right now, we know our back is against the wall. Nothing is guaranteed past Saturday unless we win. We have been here before and we understand that. This team has continued to overcome challenges all season long to get to this point and the key for us is simply playing for each other and coming out confident and aggressive. It's going to be a battle but we are looking forward to the challenge."