Women's lacrosse: No. 20 CU Buffs pull away from Arizona State

Apr. 12—In terms of both the Pac-12 Conference race and the NCAA Tournament picture, it was a must-win for the Colorado women's lacrosse team.

The Buffaloes didn't jump out of the gate as if ready to embrace the moment. But, as has been the team's habit for much of the season, once the Buffs got rolling the result took care of itself.

The 20th-ranked Buffs shook off a slow start to run away from Arizona State, posting a 20-12 Pac-12 victory on Friday afternoon at Kittredge Field. It was a season-high scoring total for the Buffs.

With the win, CU remains in sole possession of third place in the league with a 4-1 conference mark, trailing co-leaders Stanford and USC. Those two teams are 4-0 in the league heading into a Saturday battle as the Trojans visit Stanford. With two conference games remaining, CU already has lost against Stanford but faces a critical showdown at No. 19 USC next week.

"We're pretty consistent at allowing the first few goals of the game," CU head coach Ann Elliott Whidden said. "I think we're aware of it. I think they do adjust. But we've got to do a better job of just preparing so that it doesn't take us a couple defensive possessions to get into it. I think we did a pretty good job after that."

Arizona State scored the first three goals of the game and led 4-2 just 5 minutes, 43 seconds into the match. But the Sun Devils managed only one more goal over the next 24:17 through the second quarter as the Buffs built an 8-5 halftime lead.

The Sun Devils scored the first goal of the third quarter before the Buffs reeled off three straight to take an 11-6 lead, but ASU didn't go away quietly. The Sun Devils battled to within 12-9 going into the fourth and made it a two-goal game with the first tally of the fourth. Yet the Buffs responded, outscoring ASU 8-2 the rest of the way to secure their fourth win in the past five games.

Maddie Shoup enjoyed a huge game, scoring a career-high six goals, while Ashley Stokes tied a team record with seven assists. Eve Hritzuk and Madeline Pisani added three goals apiece for CU, with Hritzuk scoring all three of her goals in the fourth quarter as the Buffs pulled away. Despite the slow start CU ultimately dominated the action, recording a 33-18 advantage in shots on goal.

"We just need to come out a little more confident and a little more gritty, wanting to win," Shoup said. "I think a lot of times we get a slow start and we kind of dig ourselves a little bit of a hole. But once we get out of the hole and we actually get going, we're fine.

"Our entire offense did really well. We had a lot of ball movement. We've just been practicing all week with slipping and pick-and-roll and all that. I feel like the more we ran it today, a lot of things were open."

CU (9-4, 4-1 Pac-12) hosts Kent State in its final nonconference game on Sunday (noon, Pac-12 Mountain).

No. 20 CU Buffs women's lacrosse 20, Arizona State 12

Arizona State 5 0 4 3 — 12

Colorado 4 4 4 8 — 20

Goals — Arizona State: Dean 2, Ng 2, Scott 2, Thornton 2, Urey 2, Beucher, Oldknow. Colorado: Shoup 6, Hritzuk 3, Pisani 3, Assini 2, Dodd 2, Zimmerman 2, Kennedy, Reed.

Assists — Arizona State: Thornton 3, Scott 2, Ingrao, Oldknow. Colorado: Stokes 7, Pisani 3, Dodd, Hritzuk.

Goalies (Min-goals allowed-saves) — Arizona State: Vahle (60-20-13). Colorado: Heintz (60-12-6).