The Colorado Buffaloes women’s lacrosse team has had a great season by many standards. In addition to working their way to an 11-1 record, six of the Buffaloes’ wins have been by a margin of 10 points or higher.
Put that together with the fact that the program has only been in place since the spring of 2014 and it becomes even more impressive. One of the main figures behind the rise of Colorado’s women’s lacrosse has been head coach Ann Elliott, who has been at the helm since the program’s founding. Elliott spent her first twelve seasons at the collegiate level at Northwestern, both as a player and as a coach.
She attributes a lot of her success as a coach at Colorado thus far to what she learned from her time there.
“Obviously, I took a lot from my time playing and coaching at Northwestern, and one of the biggest things was to just believe in myself and have confidence,” Elliott said. “From there, we’ve developed a set of core values that really comes from Northwestern in terms of being positive and working hard and really going one day at a time. Those are the biggest things we’ve tried to build our program around here and get the girls to believe in.”
Known as a gritty, hard-working player from her days on the field, Elliott’s philosophy has certainly had a carryover effect. Over the course of the season, several players on the team, including junior attacker Darby Kiernan, senior goalie Paige Soenksen and sophomore midfielder Miranda Stinson, have earned NCAA women’s lacrosse player of the week honors at the national level; not bad for a program that’s only in its third season.
As with anything else, the transition from assistant to head coach is one that’s going to come with an adjustment period. Although many have been visibly overwhelmed in the transition, the 27-year-old Elliott has embraced the situation and confidently taken it in stride as she’s led the team to the top of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation in perhaps the most calm and humble manner possible.
“Coming here at a pretty young age from Northwestern, I had never been a head coach before,” Elliot said. “I had a lot of responsibility there, but just being a head coach you realize how much goes into it across the board. It isn’t just coming out to the field and coaching. There’s so many little pieces, and there’s a lot of 18-22-year-olds that are looking up to you and looking to you to lead them. I think it’s important just to trust myself and make sure every decision we make goes by our core values.”
Judging by the team’s on-field performance, she has definitely been doing her job. This season, the Buffs have played with an inspiring combination of passion and urgency that, given the youth of the program, gives the situation a true element of fantasy.
Aside from having several players stand out this season, one thing that’s been obvious is the high level of effort and leadership on the Buffs’ roster.
Besides her coaching expertise, Elliott has seemingly brought the top-tier program level vibe over to Colorado, which accounts at least partially for how the team as a whole carries itself. One of the main things she attributes this to is her team’s slogan, which has been instrumental in getting them to this point.
“The biggest thing we tell them everyday is nobody’s going to give you anything. You have to go out and earn everything,” Elliott said. “That’s our slogan: “nothing given, everything earned,” and they have to buy into that, especially with where we’re at now. No one’s going to give them the play [or] give them the call. They have to work hard, we have to go out and earn it and we have to do that as a team.”
The Buffaloes have five games left in the 2017 regular season. At this point, the sky’s the limit.
The Lady Buffs play their next two games against divisional rivals. The team will host the Stanford Cardinal at 3 p.m. (MST) Friday at Kittredge Field. Next week, the Buffaloes travel to take on the USC Trojans at 3 p.m. (MST) on Friday, April 14.
Contact CU Independent Sports Staff Writer Jack Stern at firstname.lastname@example.org.