Ann Elliott never expected the Colorado women's lacrosse team to win a championship right away, but with the Buffaloes' inaugural season in the books, she likes the long-term championship potential.

CU concluded its first season on Friday with a 15-6 loss to No. 18 Stanford in the semifinals of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation tournament. The Buffs finished 11-8 and wound up in third place in the 10-team MPSF.

"The first year, you don't have to win a championship, but you've got to make sure the second year, the third year you're getting better and you're getting closer," Elliott said. "At the end of the day, what you did the first year is build a culture and build a foundation the right way. I think we're off to a great start here."

Elliott won three national titles as a player at Northwestern, and then helped the Wildcats win three more as an assistant coach. She brought much of what she learned from Northwestern head coach Kelly Amonte Hiller to CU.

"There's so many different ways to build a program," Elliott said. "I think our model and what I'm trying to do out here is very similar to what Northwestern did there and the way they built it. The biggest thing I focus on and the biggest thing I took from Northwestern is you have to get better every year."

There's no question CU built a solid foundation this season. Despite a roster filled with 21 freshmen and two sophomores, the Buffaloes recorded positive results in the win-loss column. They also impressed Elliott with how they competed against some of the elite teams they played, such as Stanford and MPSF champion Denver.

"We tried to approach every game the way we told our players to, which is to step on the field thinking you can compete and playing as hard as you can, and we'll see what happens," Elliott said. "I think across the board they did a really good job competing."

Individually, several Buffs stood out.

Freshman goalie Paige Soenksen was named the MPSF Rookie of the Year, while also earning first-team All-MPSF honors. Freshman midfielder Johnna Fusco (team-high 45 goals) also earned first-team honors, while freshman Marie Moore (29 goals) made the second team.

Fusco won rookie of the week honors three times, while Soenksen earned that honor twice.

In addition to the players who earned postseason honors, the Buffs got sensational seasons out of several others, including freshmen Cali Castagnola (39 goals) and Katie Macleay (17 goals, 17 assists) and sophomore Sarah Lautman (26 goals, including three overtime winners).

Now, the goal is to get better for next year. Elliott will add 13 new players to the roster this summer and she hopes to see the team become stronger in 2015, when the Buffs will play a tougher schedule (including a trip to Northwestern).

"I'm the type of person that always thinks once you realize where you were, you always think, 'Could we have done better? Should we have done better?'" Elliott said. "I told them they should be very proud of themselves, but this is just the beginning for us.

"This summer is a big time for our kids that have been here to actually know what it takes to train in the summer, to get ready for the fall. When we come back in the fall, we just want to start building our team again, hitting the ground where we left it and also adding 13 new kids and getting them up to speed."

If this season was any indication, the Buffs could be in store for a great 2015.

"I'm excited to see what we can do in the future with this group," Elliott said.

Contact BuffZone.com Writer Brian Howell at howellb@dailycamera.com or on Twitter: @BrianHowell33.