Grozier's OT Game-Winner Gives Buffs Season-Opening Victory
BOULDER - Colorado Lacrosse held off Louisville for a 14-13 overtime win Friday in the 2022 season-opener at Kittredge Field and the Indoor Practice Facility (IPF) in Boulder.
The two teams played one quarter of the game outside with snow covering the field and flurries continuously increasing. After the conclusion of the first quarter, a decision was made to move the game indoors due to the inclement weather, and the remaining three quarters were played across campus at the IPF.
"It was a little bit of an unpredictable day," explained CU head coach Ann Elliott Whidden. "Trying to play outside and not having that work, and then having to come inside, it was a big adjustment. It's hard when you start a game and then take 50 minutes off and have to restart. I thought our group did well throughout that.
"We were excited and ready to go. It was a battle. I told the players at the beginning of the day, there's a 1% chance that this goes perfect, and there's a 99% chance that it goes completely different. I think we fell on the other percent where there was a 1% chance that it was going to be (crazy). At the end of the day, they stuck with it. We came out with the win. Based on how we started the last couple seasons, to come out on the right side of this and have a group that responds. We kept believing and to have different players step up is a really good first start for us. But it was crazy."
A tightly contested battle the whole way, the Buffs held a 12-9 cushion headed into the fourth quarter. The Cardinals fought back and tied the game at 13-13 to force overtime, where Sadie Grozier scored the game-winner for the Buffs as part of her six goals on the day to lead the Buffs. Charlie Rudy also played well, tacking on three goals of her own.
"Sadie did a great job. Charlie did a great job," said Whidden. "I thought our attack overall was good. (The Cardinals) were trying to shut them down for a little bit. I thought the two of them did a good job of staying in the game when they had opportunities of finishing them and being aggressive. I'm really proud of them and I'm really proud of our offense for having different players step up and do their role."
This is the second-straight year the Buffs opened their season against the Cardinals, as CU redeemed itself after a 12-9 loss last year in Louisville.
"We're a different team," Whidden said. "Offensively, we're a little more balanced. We have players that see space a little bit better (and that) can compete against the zone better. At the end of day, we just weren't scared. We came out here and competed. Last year, we were scared and unsure. This year, we are a little more confident and experienced on what we were doing."
CU goalkeeper Grace Donnelly recorded seven saves off 31 Louisville shots - 20 of which were on goal in her first career start. The Buffs were impressive in free-position attempts and took advantage of their opportunities, scoring on 8-out-of-10. Louisville was led by Nicole Perroni who had five goals while their goalkeeper Sara Addeche had seven saves on 26 CU shots with 21 of them on goal.
How it happened
Both teams struggled to acclimate to the wintry elements and the game was sloppy to start. The Cardinals struck first after Hannah Morris forced a Colorado turnover and buried one into the back of the net. The two squads exchanged goals after that, with the Buffs getting two free position goals from Rudy and Sam McGee. After a Louisville goal with under a minute to go, the Cardinals held a 3-2 advantage at the end of the first quarter.
The match moved indoors after this, and after over an hour between the end of the first quarter and the start of the second, play resumed.
In the second quarter, both teams began to find a rhythm and score some goals beginning with another free-position goal by Rudy of CU to tie it 3-3 with 8:35 left in the first half. The sides went back-and-forth in a high scoring second quarter, but Grozier scored a goal with just six seconds left to give the Buffs a slight 7-6 lead at the halftime intermission.
CU extended its lead less than 90 seconds into the third quarter when Sydney Zimmerman netted a man-up goal assisted by Morgan Pence, and the Buffs extended their lead to 8-6. The Cardinals wouldn't go away though, and scored two goals in a minute to tie things up at 8-8 with just over 12 minutes to go in the third period. CU and UL each scored another to make it 9-9, then the Buffs took over, scoring three unanswered to take a 12-9 lead into the final period of play. Of the three goals, Grozier had two of them to extend her goal total to five on the day.
Colorado couldn't get anything going offensively in the fourth, as UL slowly bit away at CU's lead and scored three straight goals to tie the game at 12-12 with over two minutes to go. Following a Colorado timeout, Katie Giordano scored off an assist from McGee to give CU a 13-12 advantage with 1:10 left in the fourth. Less than thirty seconds later, Louisville's Perroni connected on a shot with 45 seconds to go in regulation to tie the game at 13-13 and send the game to overtime.
In the overtime period, the Buffs earned a free-position shot with five seconds left before the two would switch sides, and Grozier stepped up and buried it to give the Buffs the win.
The Buffs will travel to Cambridge, Mass. next Sunday Feb. 20 where they will take on Harvard at 10 a.m. MT.