DENVER — — As she looks to the future, Colorado women's lacrosse coach Ann Elliott sees brighter days ahead.
Still, Friday's season-ending loss couldn't dampen the excitement the Buffaloes feel after a successful inaugural year.
Stanford, ranked No. 18 nationally, routed the Buffs 15-6 in the semifinals of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation tournament at Barton Lacrosse Stadium on the University of Denver campus.
"We came into the game wanting to compete and wanting to win and I think our kids believed we could do that and I believed it as their coach, but we knew (Stanford) was a good team and we knew it was going to be tough," Elliott said. "I don't think we view it as a disappointment. I wish we could have played stronger in the first 30 (minutes), but our kids fight and, at the end of the day, they have a lot to be proud of this season."
CU finished its first season at 11-8 and was pleased with the opportunity to face Stanford, despite the result.
"We have to see what you want to be," said freshman Marie Moore, who scored a goal for the Buffs. "It's a great opportunity for us to play and great experience for us. Next year we'll come back stronger and be able to play and hopefully compete better with these teams."
The game was tied 1-1 early on, but Stanford (14-3) went on a 9-0 run. Kyle Fraser scored four goals during that surge, which put the game away. Stanford out-shot the Buffs 29-5 in the first half, taking a 10-2 lead into the break.
"We gave them a lot of second chances, which led to the number of shots," said CU goalie Paige Soenksen, who made 16 saves. "We just didn't come up with the ground balls to transition it over to the attack. We kind of gave them all the opportunities that they had."
The Buffs were pleased, however, with how they battled in the second half. They were outscored just 5-4 and outshot 15-13 after the break.
"Once we settled down in the second half, we got into more of a groove and were able to play with them," Moore said. "Going into a whole new offseason, we needed that."
All along, the Buffs have known that this season was about building a foundation, so it wasn't difficult for them to see the big picture.
"We're going to take what we learned from the season and learned from this game and work hard and implement it for next year," Soenksen said.
While it was just a start for the program, Elliott couldn't be more pleased with how the Buffs performed in their first season.
"We're very excited," she said. "They have to hold their heads high. From August to now, we're a different team. If we can continue to improve at that rate, we will be here sooner than later competing at the highest level."
Johnna Fusco had two goals for CU. Moore, Cali Castagnola, Katie Macleay and Sarah Lautman also scored. ... Stanford will face Denver (17-1) in Sunday's championship game. ... Fraser, who had just 14 goals all season, scored six times against the Buffs. She finished one goal shy of the program record and had just the ninth six-goal game in Stanford history, which dates back to 1997. ... For the game, Stanford out-shot the Buffs 44-18. It the most shots allowed by a CU opponent this year, topping the 41 by Jacksonville on Feb. 15.