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No. 17 USC Tops No. 23 Buffs In Pac-12 Opener

Mar 11, 2022
Sam McGee led CU with three goals

LOS ANGELES – The No. 23 Colorado Buffaloes suffered their first loss of the 2022 lacrosse season, falling to No. 17 USC on Friday, 11-7, at McAlister Field.
 
The Buffs were led by Sam McGee's three goals, but she was the lone Buff who scored more than one as four other Buffs scored once. Colorado recorded 21 shots and put 19 on goal. USC's goalkeeper Kait Devir made 12 saves, including four in the first quarter which kept Colorado scoreless in the opening frame.
 
Kelsey Huff led the Trojans with seven goals on 13 shots. USC put 26 of its 36 shots on goal which kept CU's goalkeeper, Grace Donnelly, busy. She recorded a career-high 15 saves in the effort, surpassing her previous career-best of 13. The 15 saves tied the 13th most in CU single-game history.
 
The Buffs are now 5-1 (0-1 Pac-12), while USC is 4-1 (1-0 Pac-12).
 
"I didn't think we played well and we didn't do things we are more than capable of doing," coach Ann Elliott Whidden said. "We have to be more confident in our systems and learn from our previous games. We made a lot of same mistakes we made in prior games and that is frustrating.
 
"We had a few bright spots. After the first few minutes I thought we settled down defensively and did a good job. Grace had a great day for us and our middies stepped up when Charlie went out of the game. At end of the day, we are 0-1 in conference and can't change that. We are capable of more and need to demand more from ourselves. I need to do better in preparing us to do just that."
 
WHAT HAPPENED: USC scored the first four goals of the game. The Trojans started the scoring a little over four minutes into the game (11:22) when Kelsey Huff scored her 14th of the season. Less than a minute later, Isabelle Vitale found the back of the net to put USC up 2-0.
 
The Trojans recorded another two goals in just over 90 seconds apart to take a 4-0 lead, causing the Buffs to take a timeout. After that break, CU held USC scoreless the rest of the quarter, but the Trojans did the same to the Buffs.
 
CU ended its scoring drought with 9:55 left in the second quarter when Charlie Rudy found Sydney Zimmerman open in front of the net for Zimmerman's fourth goal of the season.
 
The Buffs continued to shut down the Trojans' offense until there was 6:41 left in the second quarter when USC converted on a man-up free-position attempt. USC would add another two goals to take a 7-1 advantage with 3:35 left in the half.
 
But back-to-back goals from McGee brought the Buffs within five at the half. Her first goal came with 2:58 left in the quarter. Zimmerman found her open and she made a few moves to trick the goalie. Her second goal came as the Buffs were on the transition. Sophie Halus was clearing and passed to Zimmerman, who looked back to see McGee open once more. McGee caught the pass and put the shot in the back of the net at 1:49. The score at halftime was 8-3.
 
Only two goals were scored in the third quarter. The Trojans recorded their marker within the opening minute, going up 9-3. Colorado's goal came from Chloe Willard with 3:33 remaining.
 
The fourth quarter scoring started at 12:35 with USC finding the back of the net first. Morgan Pence answered back for CU with a goal at 12:08.
 
Five minutes later the Trojans went back up by six with another goal from Huff, but Katie Giordano responded with her own goal, a free-position goal, a minute later to get the Buffs back within five.
 
The two sides continued to battle and with one minute left, McGee recorded her third marker of the game on a free-position attempt, cutting USC's lead to four (11-7). But it was as close as the Buffs would get as the clock ran down to 0:00.
 
UP NEXT: The Buffaloes head to Tempe, Ariz., for a tilt against Arizona State on March 13. Opening draw is set for a 12 p.m. MDT start.
 
"We have to turn our focus to Sunday now," Whidden said. "We can go 0-2 or 1-1 on weekend; we need to decide how we will respond and what will be next for us. We are playing a great ASU team and need to be ready to play 60 full minutes to be successful."
 
NOTABLE:

  • Donnelly recorded a career-high in saves 15
  • It was her second game with double-digit saves
  • McGee recorded her first hat-trick as a Buff with three goals, two in the second quarter and one in the fourth quarter
  • Zimmerman tied her career-high with two points (1g, 1a)
  • Rudy recorded two yellow cards in the first half and was not allowed to return to the game following her second card
  • Colorado is 3-2 in Pac-12 openers and is 5-4 overall in conference openers
  • USC leads the all-time series 9-5, which includes a 5-1 record against CU in L.A.

 
TEAM LEADERS:
 

Colorado Southern California
Points: 10 Points: 12
Goals: 7 Goals: 11
Assists: 3 Assists: 1
Draw Controls: 8 Draw Controls: 14      
Ground Balls: 16 Ground Balls: 24
Saves: 15 Saves: 12