CU Edged by Cal in Final Home Game of the Season

BOULDER Looking to end its inaugural home season on a high note, the University of Colorado lacrosse team battled but came up just short against California, falling 7-6 here Sunday.

The Buffaloes trailed 3-2 heading into halftime, marking the lowest combined first half score for a CU game this season. CU had a bigger presence in the second half, scoring four of its six goals. With 1:17 remaining in regulation, Johnna Fusco got the Buffs back within a single goal, but Cal would dominate possession until the final horn to hand CU just its second home loss.

"You can tell by (Cal's) excitement that this game meant a lot more to them than it meant to us for some reason," CU head coach Ann Elliott said. "We have to figure out how to come out with a purpose, how to come out with that type of intensity and Cal had it today, they played great, they played hard all over the field and they wanted it and we didn't have that. We can make up a million excuses in our head of why, but at the end of the day if you want it bad enough you'll work hard for it and we have to work on that all the way through not just here for spurts of 30 seconds or just one play but all the way through to finish plays."

Still fighting for a bid to the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation tournament, Colorado falls to 9-7 overall, 5-3 MPSF. The Buffs had a great home field advantage in their inaugural season, falling just twice at Kittredge Field for a home record of 6-2. Against Cal, 402 fans cheered on the Buffs in their home finale.

"It was great just having the support of the crowd, people from your dorms and from your classes come and that really helps," CU goalie Paige Soenksen said. "It just makes you more fired up knowing people come out to watch you, so you need to do right by the school and perform well."

Fusco led the Buffs, recording her fourth hat trick of the season. Fusco has now scored three or more goals in seven games. Cali Castagnola had two goals, while Amelia Brown contributed one. For just the second time this season, the Buffs had zero assists. The last time the Buffs had no assists, they suffered their one and only other home loss, an 11-8 defeat to Brown.

Winning three of their last five games, the Cal Bears improve to 5-10, 3-5 MPSF. Gaby Christman paced the Bears with two goals. Paige Gasparino also added two points, off a goal and an assist. Goalie Katie Guiterrez made six saves.

"I thought she played really well," Elliott said of Guiterrez. "We watched film of the last few games Cal has played in Michigan, and down in Denver, and she had been playing really well, so we knew that coming in. Hats off to her, good job today."

California had the edge in nearly every way. Cal outshot CU 21 to 17, including 10 to six in the first half. Cal scooped up four more ground balls (13 to nine) and won twice as many draws (10 to five). Colorado played a cleaner game, turning the ball over one fewer time (11 to 12) and grabbing 10 fewer fouls (20 to 30).

"At the end of the day, the message is the same," Elliott said. "We have to work together and we have to play hard. We have to do the little things, and we didn't do that today. We didn't win draw controls, and that helped us on Friday against Old Dominion, and today we got crushed in draw controls and we have to pick up those little things in order to get in better positions to win games."

As they did in Friday's win over Old Dominion, the Buffs struck first. Possession changed several times, but CU finally made its way to the crease at 27:25, when Castagnola found the back of the net from the 8-meter arc. CU would hold its only lead of the game for over 10 more minutes before Cal would score its first.

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