Buffs Host Ducks in Home Finale
BOULDER – 11 seniors and four fifth-year seniors will step onto Kittredge Field for the last time in the Black and Gold when Colorado hosts Oregon on Friday (4 p.m. MT/Pac-12 Networks).
The 15 departing seniors have been through the wringer in their time at CU. The group had to persevere through the tragic death of a teammate, a sudden hospitalization of another teammate and a certain pandemic that has changed the world.
"This is a special group," head coach Ann Elliott Whidden reminisced. "It's been a challenging few years as it has been for everybody across the country. For us in particular, our fifth-year student-athletes [dealt with] going through the loss of a teammate in Julia [Sarcona], going through Aine [Williams] who is in her fifth year now [after] being sick and so unsure of what that situation was. That's hard to come in your freshman year and while things did get easier, they also didn't because then we went into COVID and all the challenges there.
"I think this group has really grown through the challenges and I'm really proud of the way they've individually and collectively grown and added to our team. They have had such a strong impact on the culture of this team."
The Buffs (9-5, 4-5 Pac-12) had a disappointing home weekend last time out, dropping its first two of the season in front of the home crowd. Friday's game offers CU a chance to finish the home schedule on a high note.
"I feel like we are a good lacrosse team," Elliott Whidden added. "We just didn't execute at the level we needed to [last weekend]. It wasn't about a lack of effort. We went out there and tried. It was just a lack of execution on opportunities on both ends of the field. I think we're confident in who we are. We have to refocus because things got a lot harder for us. If we want to win a Pac-12 championship and play in May, there's not a lot of room [for error].
Colorado has never lost to Oregon in 12 meetings. The two schools were originally members of the MPSF, before the Pac-12 integrated lacrosse into the conference in 2018. The Buffaloes' 12-0 record over the Ducks is far and away the best against any opponent in CU history.
Oregon (3-12, 1-8 Pac-12) has lost its last six games since a quick two-game win streak towards the end of March. The Ducks have been outscored by a 49-goal differential margin this season and haven't scored more than 12 in the current stretch.
"We still want to win a Pac-12 championship," Elliott Whidden reiterated. "We understand that it's harder than it would have been if we could have been successful last weekend. We have to focus on what we can control and we have a great opportunity in Oregon and a great opportunity in Denver [regulars season finale]. We believe in ourselves and know we can win those games."
For the 15 seniors, Friday offers one last chance for them to make an impact in Boulder.
"We haven't talked about it too much in terms of [the team having a sense of urgency for the seniors] that aspect," Elliott Whidden explained. "I've thrown it back to the group of 15. It's more of a challenge to them of how do they want to end? What do they want to do? and making sure that that group, which is a large group of us, is passing that sense of urgency and belief in themselves down to everybody else. "
Colorado's Senior Day celebration will be held postgame.