Colorado drops season opener to No. 6 Florida Gators, 16-9

Colorado faces off against Florida. Feb. 9, 2019 (Kevin Wu / CU Independent)

The No. 17 Colorado Buffaloes women’s lacrosse team started the 2019 regular season off on Saturday afternoon at Kittredge Field against the No. 6 Florida Gators. It was a highly-anticipated rematch, one that dates back to last season when the Buffs were knocked out of the NCAA tournament by the very same Florida team.

Once more, it was the Buffs that came up short against the Gators, falling 16-9.

It was chilly day in Boulder and the Buffaloes got off to an even colder start. Florida captured a quick 7-0 lead at the 17:50 mark in the first half.

The Buffs weren’t going to go down without a fight, however. Senior attacker Samantha Nemirov scored the Buffs’ first goal of the season with 16:31 left in the half.

The Buffaloes scored three more goals and saw a score of 8-4 entering halftime.

“I thought initially out there we were playing scared and we were watching a lot of lacrosse being played instead of playing it,” said Whidden, the women’s lacrosse coach. “At the end of the day we need people to… step up, and do a little bit more for us.”

Junior goaltender Julia Lisella was challenged to begin the game and she kept the Buffs in it with eight saves in the first half. Lisella made a total of 12 saves.

CU struggled to get consistent shots on goal early on, and Florida outshot the Buffs 14-3 to start the game.

To begin the second half, the Gators kept their momentum and scored quickly, notching a goal just one minute into the half. The Buffs responded with a goal of their own four minutes later from senior attacker Miranda Stinson.

For a few minutes, the scoring went back and forth. Florida went on a two-goal run, and Colorado responded with a two-goal run of its own right after.

The Buffs were unable to get within striking distance of the Gators, as Florida increased its lead to 12-6 about halfway through the second half.

CU narrowed the deficit with a pair of goals from Stinson and freshman attacker Charlie Rudy, but Florida found the back of the net four more times. With 20 seconds left on the clock, a final Colorado goal came from freshman midfielder Liz Phillips.

As the clock wound down, it was the Gators that came away with a 16-9 victory.

“A big thing for us is we got to play 60 minutes and we got to compete, and I think we were scared today,” said Whidden. “I think some of our team came out and competed for 60 minutes, and some people were scared, and we can’t be scared as we go into games, and youth isn’t an excuse for us.”

Colorado’s Stinson, Rudy and sophomore midfield Sadie Grozier led the Buffs in scoring with two goals a piece for the Buffs on the offensive side.

“Looking at the stats it was pretty even,” Whidden said.

On paper the Buffs were neck and neck with Florida. The Gators only led the Buffs by two in draw controls, turnovers and free position shots. If Colorado had caused one more turnover, they would have tied the Gators with 13.

“We had a lot of people [that were] being a threat,” Whidden said. “But I think we needed more from them and we needed more from the start.”

Fortunately for the Buffs, one game does not dictate a season. Now their focus shifts to next matchup against Virginia Tech.

“Our players have a lot of experience, and as we head into Virginia Tech, we need to bring confidence with us,” Whidden said.

Up next for the Buffaloes will be their first road contest as they travel to Blacksburg, Virginia to face off against No. 14 Virginia Tech on Feb. 16 at 11 a.m. MST.

Contact CU Independent Sports Staff Writer Jack Carlough at jack.carlough@colorado.edu.

Jack Carlough

SPORTS WRITER JACK CARLOUGH IS A FRESHMAN STUDYING JOURNALISM AND IS IN HIS FIRST YEAR WRITING FOR THE CU INDEPENDENT. A BOULDER NATIVE, JACK ENJOYS HIKING AND GOING TO ROCKIES GAMES WHEN HE'S NOT COVERING CU SPORTS. FOLLOW HIM ON TWITTER @JCARLOUGH_9

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