On Saturday the Colorado Buffaloes women’s lacrosse team fell 11-5 to the USC Trojans in the first game of CU’s two-game homestead taking place this weekend.
Colorado got off to a shaky start in the non-conference section of the 2019 season but rallied to win its first two conference games balancing their season record at 3-3. USC on the other hand, had a strong start to the season, losing one game and winning the first games in Pac-12 Conference play handily — their success continued Saturday in Boulder.
The loss puts CU at 3-4, winless at home in Boulder.
After the draw, the Trojans earned a free position shot on their first trip into the CU offensive zone. USC’s senior attacker Emily Concialdi took the free position shot and scored, giving the Trojans a quick 1-0 lead with 28:13 left in the first period.
USC didn’t stop there, as less than a minute later, junior attacker Hope Anhut found the back of the net to make the score 2-0 in favor of the Trojans.
Both teams settled down a bit after the first five minutes, and began working the ball around the offensive zone until high-percentage shot opportunities opened up. With both teams being patient with the shots they took, the goalies had to participate.
With about 26 minutes left in the first period, the Buffs junior goalie Julia Lisella made a save on a breakaway opportunity by USC’s Erin Bakes, holding the Trojan lead. Three minutes later, Trojans’ goalie Riley Hertford made stellar back-to-back saves on two consecutive hard shots from inside the zone.
With just under twenty minutes left in the period, the Buffs had some real issues on both offense and defense. USC scored back-to-back unassisted goals in the same minute due to Colorado’s lackluster defense.
With these two goals the Trojans managed to stretch their lead to 4-0.
“I thought they came out, were in control and they made their possessions count,” said CU head coach Ann Elliott Whidden.
Finally, with 17:02 left in the period, CU managed to put a point on the board. Senior attacker Miranda Stinson carried the ball into the zone, and fired a shot past the goalie to earn herself an unassisted goal to cut the lead to three. After that, Colorado turned up the heat, and maintained possession in the offensive zone for a few minutes and earned two free position shots.
CU put the pressure on USC and it paid off as freshman attacker Charlie Rudy got a pass from senior attacker Samantha Nemirov for a goal in the top right corner of the net while battling off a defender.
Now with just over ten minutes left in the period, the Buffaloes were down by only two.
With Colorado gaining momentum, the Trojans game back to life. Junior attacker Izzy McMahon led the charge with a spin move on a CU defender sending her to the ground.
This move gave USC some energy and helped get the Trojans back on track. Along with a two-minute penalty on Colorado, the momentum shifted back to USC.
With 9:10 left in the first period, sophomore midfielder Kaeli Huff buried a goal over the left shoulder of the Lisella, extending the Trojan lead.
USC continued to control possession for the next five minutes, working the ball around the outside running the shot clock. This worked well for the Trojans until there was 3:20 left in the period, when Stinson got the ball on a counter attack, making the Trojans’ defense pay.
Stinson broke away from her defender and scored a powerful bounce shot that rose just above the goalie’s left leg, making the score 5-3.
With just 20 second left in the first, Trojan sophomore defender Natalie Byrne committed a penalty, awarding CU a free position shot. Nemirov did not throw away her shot and all of a sudden, the Trojans only led by one.
“Just being able to clear the ball and give our self some touches was helpful,” said Whidden. “[In addition,] pushing it in transition — you know most of the goals we scored were in transition.”
With just seconds on the clock, USC won the draw and freshman midfielder Sophia Donovan sprinted down field, blew past the flat-footed CU defense and scored a goal with only nine seconds left in the first.
The first period ended with USC on top 6-4.
The second period started similar to the first with great ball movement. A beautiful pass led to an open shot in front of Lisella, and with 27:43 left freshman midfielder Kelsey Huff put USC up 7-4.
“I don’t think we did very good job of coming out and playing aggressive and making every play count” said Whidden after the loss. “I thought we played a little scared, I thought we didn’t play very confident, and I don’t think we played very hard.”
Colorado gave up two more goals before Stinson won possession at midfield, carried it all the way down into the attacking zone and rocketed a shot into the bottom right corner, making the score 9-5.
It was her third goal of the day with 8:48 left in the period. But the Trojans tacked two more goals before the day was over.
With six minutes left, CU had its last good chance of the day. Nemirov had a wide-open break away and took a good shot trying to beat the goalie to her left side. But USC’s Hertford was not phased and with her tenth save, effectively ended the game. Colorado outshot USC 27-23 in the contest and had less turnovers, but just could not get enough shots over the goal line.
“For us to win, it’s about effort” said Whidden. “If we care tomorrow and we show up and can be the aggressive team that we were last week, then we will be successful.”
Colorado will play USC again on April 5th in Los Angeles. The Buffaloes’ next game is Sunday at home against the Arizona State Sun devils at 1 p.m. MST.
Contact CU Independent Sports Staff Writer Max Troderman at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @mtroderman