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Women's lacrosse: Northwestern pulls away from CU Buffs in top-20 showdown

Feb. 22—The hot start to the season by the Colorado women's lacrosse team was marked by big fourth quarters and timely late goals.

On Thursday, Northwestern made certain to put matters far enough out of reach to avoid the Buffaloes' late-game heroics.

The 20th-ranked Buffaloes' unbeaten start to the season came to an end at a rain-and-sleet filled Kittredge Field, as the fourth-ranked, defending national champion Wildcats controlled the possession and, eventually, the scoreboard while handing CU a 19-14 defeat.

The Buffs (3-1) were outscored 11-6 over the second and third quarters as the Wildcats slowly took over. The opening frame was a fast-paced affair that featured 12 of the game's 33 goals and ended in a 6-6 tie. But the Wildcats controlled 25 of 37 draws and dictated the tempo the rest of the way while handing the Buffs their first defeat of the season.

"I think for us overall, it was just a game of possession," said CU coach Ann Elliott Whidden, a former standout player at Northwestern. "We just didn't do great on the draws. We battled, but we lost those 25-12. So it's 13 more times that they have the ball. That gives them a little bit more control than us. I thought we did a good job on defense getting some stops. But it's hard to play defense for 75% of the game. I thought we did a good job on offense of executing. The difference was just not having the ball."

The Buffs took a brief 7-6 lead early in the second quarter on a goal from Ashley Stokes, but the Wildcats reeled off the next five goals while building an 11-9 halftime lead. The deficit for CU remained two goals at 12-10 early in the third quarter before Northwestern scored four straight to push its advantage to 16-10.

The Wildcats sat on the ball for much of the final frame, chewing nearly 10 minutes off the clock before adding a pair of tallies that all but ended any thoughts of a Buffs rally.

CU's Madeline Pisani scored at least four goals in each of the first three games of the season but, after being the focus of the Northwestern defense for much of the game, she needed a tally late in the fourth quarter to finish with three goals. Maddie Shoup and Northwestern transfer Eve Hritzuk also scored three goals apiece for the Buffs.

Northwestern's Madison Taylor, the Big Ten Conference Freshman of the Year last season, recorded six goals. The Wildcats' Izzy Scane recorded five goals and two assists while Dylan Amonte, the daughter of former Chicago Blackhawks standout Tony Amonte, scored four goals for Northwestern.

"Northwestern's a fantastic team, but so are we," Pisani said. "The score was a difference of five, but I do think that it felt like it was a little bit closer than that. I think we can totally beat some of these really good teams, and I look forward to that. Being the underdog, I think that we have something to prove and I'm ready for this team to do that."

CU plays its next three matches on the road, beginning Feb. 29 at Central Michigan.

No. 4 Northwestern 19, No. 20 Colorado 14

Northwestern 6 5 6 2 — 19

Colorado 6 3 3 2 — 14

Goals — Northwestern: Taylor 6, Scane 5, Amonte 4, Coykendall, Frank, Bohling, Schumar. Colorado: Pisani 3, Hritzuk 3, Shoup 3, Stokes 2, Kennedy, Dodd, Zimmerman.

Assists — Northwestern: Coykendall 4, Scane 2, Taylor, White. Colorado: Assini 3, Zimmerman 2, Pisani, Dodd.

Goalies (Min.-goals allowed-saves) — Northwestern: Nugent (30-9-2); Laliberty (30-5-6). Colorado: Heintz (90-19-11).