CU Stays Alive in MPSF Tourney with 2OT Win vs. SDSU

DENVER Colorado versus San Diego State: take two. Though the journey was different, the outcome was the same, with the CU lacrosse team taking down SDSU in overtime. This time, Johnna Fusco netted the sudden victory game-winner to give the Buffaloes a 9-8 win in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation quarterfinals.

CU has a growing knack for overtime play. The Buffs have gone into extra minutes in four of their last five games. In fact, all the teams playing in Thursday's MPSF quarterfinals (SDSU, USC and Oregon) have lost to CU in overtime during the regular season. CU is now a perfect 4-0 in overtime, picking up two wins over SDSU. In its inaugural season, the Buffs improve to 11-7 overall.

"It's not a trend we're promoting but we've been fighting hard and there's good teams in our conference," CU head coach Ann Elliott said of her team's recent inclination for extra minutes. "It's taken us longer than 60 minutes to win and we're very fortunate for every opportunity. We're fortunate to be on the winning side of these games. It's tough to win in overtime."

Despite the tendency for overtime, they did break two trends, though these were more likely to hurt than help the Buffs. Colorado entered halftime up 4-2, but San Diego State (7-10 overall) came surging back in the final 30 minutes of regulation. For the first time in their last 14 games, and for just the fourth time total, the Buffs allowed more than five second half goals. Outscoring opponents in the second half in eight of their 10 victories entering the postseason match-up, Thursday marked just the second time the Buffs got a win when not being outscored in the second half. Against Fresno State, the Bulldogs outscored the Buffs five to two in the second half, but CU was barely affected after their 10-1 first half dominance.

Things were different against San Diego State different from other games and different from their first match-up. Whereas SDSU dominated the first half in April, CU took the lead in May. At Kittredge Field, CU came surging back to force overtime. At DU's Peter Barton Lacrosse Stadium, the Aztecs were the ones with the late push.

CU went into the intermission with a two-goal lead, extending it to three in the opening minutes of the second half. SDSU then used a 10 minute 5-0 run to take a two-goal lead of its own. Ever the team known for late game heroics, CU evened the score in the final seven minutes of regulation. SDSU might have had momentum for the majority of the second half, but CU continued its overtime dominance.

The Aztecs took two shots to the Buffs' one in the first period of overtime, but neither were enough to take the lead and the win. The teams headed to the sudden victory period, where CU wasted little time in ending the game. In the first minute, Fusco got fouled and set up for a free-position shot. In the process, she got fouled again. This time she'd make it count and end the game.

"I honestly can't even remember but I think [my thought] was 'get this in and the game will be over,'" Fusco said of the last moments of the game. "Nothing was really going through my head. It was just 'goal, goal, goal.'"

Fusco probably spent a lot of the game thinking about goals. She led the team with a hat trick, her fifth of the season, and two assists. The Buffs did a great job of spreading the offense, with six players netting at least one goal, but coach Elliott was particularly impressed with Fusco's fight to the finish.

"I honestly think all of our kids fight and I think specifically today, Johnna fought hard," Elliott said. "When we needed a ground ball, a draw control, or someone to dodge hard, she did it. She got pushed around a little bit but she got back up and I'm proud of everyone today, and I'm especially proud of her."

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