Willard & Pence’s Four-Goal Games Power CU’s Win Over No. 16 Vanderbilt
BOULDER – Chloe Willard and Morgan Pence tallied four goals apiece as the University of Colorado lacrosse team added a ranked win to its early-season résumé Friday, defeating the 16th-ranked Vanderbilt Commodores, 18-11, at Kittredge Field.
Willard scored a three straight goals in the third quarter, marking her fourth career hat-trick. Her third gave the Buffs a 14-8 lead with 3:49 left in the quarter. She totaled four goals for the game, all in the second half.
Pence tallied her first career hat trick in the win. She had two goals in each half to go along with two assists in the game for a career-high six points, which tied for the game-high with Willard who also had two assists.
The Buffaloes and Commodores traded goals early in the game, reminiscent of the back-and-forth affair the teams played in Nashville last year. However, the Buffaloes used their offensive prowess to go on a 6-1 run in the second quarter, which gave them a 10-5 advantage. Six different players scored goals for Colorado during the run.
"I thought offensively we did a great job of moving the ball," head coach Ann Elliott Whidden said. "We did a great job of just being aggressive when it was our time to be aggressive. I'm proud of (the players) for being ready for their moments and finishing their opportunities. It's a group that I think keeps gaining a little bit of confidence game-by-game and gaining that experience. I thought it showed today."
Vanderbilt scored three consecutive goals to cut CU's lead in the game to 10-8. However, Charlie Rudy's 100th career goal with 8:29 left in the third quarter, along with Willard's hat trick, had the Buffs in good position for the win. Vanderbilt could not get closer than within five goals of the Buffaloes after the 4-0 run.
Rudy recorded her 20th career hat trick, scoring a goal with 11:41 left in the fourth quarter to give CU a 15-9 lead. The Buffaloes never looked back after that.
The Buffaloes are now 4-0, while the Commodores are 3-1 overall.
WHAT HAPPENED: Colorado jumped out to an early 2-0 lead at the 11:47 mark from goals by Grozier and Kasey Braun, 39 seconds apart.
Vanderbilt answered with two goals of their own from Callie Sundin and Gabby Fornia to tie the game at 2 at the 5:22 mark of the first quarter.
With the game tied 3-3, Liz Phillips scored a free-position goal with 21 seconds left, but Vanderbilt answered with a goal from Paige Finneran at the first-quarter buzzer, leveling the teams at 4-4.
In the second quarter, the Buffaloes went on a 6-1 run to take a 10-5 lead with 3:23 remaining. Up 7-5, CU would score three goals in 1:12 to take the five-goal lead, including two man-up goals from Phillips and Rudy. Vanderbilt would answer with two goals from Bri Gross and Maddie Souza to cut the deficit to 10-7 at halftime.
"We looked prepared and (the players) looked confident out there," Whidden said. "I'm proud of them for stepping up when they had opportunities on both ends of the field."
After Vanderbilt opened the second half with a goal from Sundin, Colorado rattled off a 4-0 run to go up 14-8.
To start the fourth quarter, Colorado followed up a Vanderbilt goal with three straight goals to take a 17-9 lead. Vanderbilt would answer with two goals to cut the CU advantage to 17-11 with 5:25 left.
Pence would score her fourth of the game to give CU an 18-11 advantage, which proved to be the final score, giving CU their first ranked win of the season.
"We know what we're capable of doing," Whidden said. "We know that we have a lot of great players out there. We've got to believe in ourselves and execute. This was a great day for us today, but it's just going to be today, and we'll start getting ready for UC Davis tomorrow. As I told this team, every game we play this season's a big game. We're focused on our goals and what we want to accomplish. Every game is a big game. Every game is a championship mentality for us."
MILESTONES: Along with Charlie Rudy's 100th goal, 5th-year senior Sadie Grozier recorded her 150th career point in a CU uniform. She got the point on a goal with 4:35 left in the second quarter to give Colorado an 8-5 lead. It was her second goal of the game.
"I think those two players for us are key players and great players," Whidden said. "I think today was about the team win overall, and they knew that too. It's exciting and I'm proud of them for reaching that, they put in a lot of work and a lot of effort. They were team-first today."
NOTEWORTHY: Colorado had eight different goal scorers in the game, including seven different players that scored goals
in the first half.
UP NEXT: Colorado hosts UC Davis (2-1) Sunday, March 6, before starting the Pac-12 Conference season with three road contests against USC (March 11), Arizona State (March 13), and Oregon (March 18).
- Kasey Braun scored her first goal of the season to give the Buffs a 2-0 lead at the 11:47 mark in the first quarter.
- Liz Phillips scored her first goal of the season with 21 seconds left in the first quarter, giving the Buffaloes a 4-3 lead. Phillips had two goals in the game.
- There were eight goals scored in the first quarter by eight different players.
- Sophie Halus scored her first career goal with 9:52 left in the second quarter to give Colorado a 7-4 lead.
- Colorado had six goals from six different players in the second quarter.
- Vanderbilt's goal from Bri Gross to cut CU's advantage to 14-9 was the Commodore's first goal in 17:49 of gameplay.
- The Buffs are 43-11 at Kittredge Field all-time and 48-13 in Boulder.
- This was the second all-time meeting between the Buffaloes and Commodores. Vanderbilt won 10-9 last year in an overtime affair
|Draw Controls: 13
|Draw Controls: 17
|Ground Balls: 17
|Ground Balls: 9