BOULDER – Despite being outscored nine to zero in the first half, the University of Colorado lacrosse team came surging back in the second half, but its late run wouldn’t be enough against Brown, falling 11-8 here Saturday night.
The Brown Bears (who with the win, extend their perfect record to 7-0) had a defense as cold as the below freezing weather conditions, holding CU to just two first half shots. The Bears took just 50 seconds to score their first and would continue to dominate the Buffaloes for the first 30 minutes. Brown took 12 of its 17 shots in the first half, netting nine goals and holding CU’s lead goalie Paige Soenksen to just two saves.
Following the intermission, Brown looked primed to dominate the game for the full 60 minutes, extending its lead to 10 with 25:30 remaining. As they’ve been proving in their most recent match-ups, the Buffs (who fall to 4-5 on the season) will do anything but give up in the second half. In their last three games, CU has allowed nine or more goals in the first half, while allowing just five or fewer in the second. Taking over goalkeeping duties at halftime, Sophia Gambitsky held the Browns to just two second half goals.
With Marie Moore and Johnna Fusco leading the way, CU used the final 12:30 to go on an 8-1 run, though Brown’s lead would be too much to overcome in the final minutes of regulation.
“Our message really didn’t change from the first half to the second half,” CU head coach Ann Elliott said. “It’s just about working hard and being tough. We had to play in tougher conditions today but you know, so did Brown. They came out and they were tougher than us in the first half but we responded in the second half by playing our game, playing hard, and focusing on the things we could control.”
Though CU dominated in ground balls, picking up an even 12 each half to Brown’s 13 total, the Bears showed their strength on the draw. Averaging 15.83 draw controls per game, the eighth best in the nation, Brown won 13 draws to CU’s eight. Turnovers proved a problem for both teams, with Brown and CU turning it over 21 and 19 times, respectively.
“We have to be able to play for 60 minutes,” Elliott said. “The last few games we haven’t put it together for 60 minutes. It’s been 45 minutes, 15 minutes, but not 60. When you’re playing good teams, you have to play for a full 60 and you have to be able to execute in those minutes throwing and catching. That’s what we’ll work on this week.”
Brown took its first lead just 50 seconds into the game and didn’t take its foot off the gas pedal for the next 30 minutes plus. Brown’s leading scorer Bre Hudgins set the tone for the Bears, scoring her first of four goals before the one minute mark. Grace Healy took less than four minutes to net back-to-back goals and put Brown up 3-0. With 19:41 remaining, Hudgins got her third, and she kept the ball rolling at 18:17 to give Brown a 7-0 lead.
Danielle Mastro, assisted by Healy, got her second goal with 16:53 remaining. With just over 10 minutes before the half, Brown kept going with Janie Goin hitting the Bears’ eighth. Though the team would go on a nine minute scoring draught, the Bears would further extend their lead to 9-0 in the final 1:30.
In the second half, Hudgins again set the tone early, though her goal in the first 4:30 would be only one of two for the Bears in the final 30 minutes. With their 10 goal lead solidified, the clock kept running until CU got its first answer 13 minutes later.
In a five minute span, the Buffs would go on a 4-0 unassisted scoring run. During that time, Moore recorded her fourth hat trick of the season. Brown’s lead keeper Kellie Roddy holds the country’s seventh best goals-against average, allowing just 6.81 this season, and just one against CU. Moore was the only Buff to score against Roddy, setting the Buffs’ run in motion.
With Victoria Holland now guarding the cage for Brown, the Buffs continued their comeback, with Fusco cutting the lead to eight. Moore scored back-to-back goals, the second with 7:31 remaining, to get the Buffs the closest they’d been since the first 12 minutes of the first half.
Brown’s Julia Carrellas acted as brief intermission to CU’s scoring drive, pushing the Bears’ lead back to seven in the final 4:02, but the Buffs still had a fight within them. In less than two minutes, Fusco hit three in a row. Her first was a sharp-shooting unassisted goal with 2:31 remaining. Just 29 seconds later, Fusco found success from the 8-meter, scoring her first of two free position goals. The Buffs scored two goals in the final minute, with Katie Carroll hitting the last with 27 seconds on the clock, but CU’s run would end with the Buffs in a three goal defeat.
“I think we have to just come out harder in the first half and be ready to play from the start,” Moore said of the game. “I think every team has a lot of stuff to work on, but I think particularly for this game, we just have to come out a little harder. [The weather was hard] but you just have to play through it and adapt.”
The Buffs return to Kittredge Field to play their first home Mountain Pacific Sports Federation match-up on Friday, March 28, hosting St. Mary’s at 3 p.m.