When reporters asked to speak with Johnna Fusco before Colorado's lacrosse practice Tuesday afternoon at Kittredge Field, she was serenaded by teammates on her walk to meet the scribes.
Earning a conference Rookie of the Week award and the school's Athlete of the Week award after your first two games - the first in the program's history - not only makes you a target for the press but an easy mark for teammates in the mood to give you a hard time.
Fusco handled the teasing as well as she handled her first two college games. The freshman from Marietta, Ga., leads the fledgling program with nine points off five goals and four assists in two games. She registered her first college hat trick in the Buffs' first victory at Stetson last week.
CU plays its first game in the state Wednesday afternoon at No. 18 Denver at 3 p.m. The Buffs and Pioneers played an exhibition game during the fall season in early October and Denver won 13-6.
"What I can remember, it went pretty well," Fusco said. "It definitely was a big change for us against a pretty good team. I think we definitely took it by the horns and did what we could."
It would be a significant upset for the Buffs to win their first game in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation, the conference they compete in because the Pac-12 doesn't yet sponsor women's lacrosse. Not only is DU ranked on the coaches' top-25 poll, it went undefeated at home last year and also went undefeated in conference during the regular season.
"They're doing great so far," CU coach Ann Elliott said of her young team of 21 freshman and two sophomores. "I think we're off to a good start. We have to fix some things, but that's the case if we're a young team or we're in our first couple games and we're a veteran team. I think last week was a good preparation for us going into this week and our next two games.
"They play hard. I think we have a team that is going to play hard and they're never going to give up. They're competitive."
Fusco said a key part of developing and improving is communicating. While the Buffs had a month of practices in the fall and another month prior to the season starting, they are just starting to get used to how individuals teammates react under the pressure of games that count.
"That's the biggest thing with us," Fusco said. "I think if you communicate well with each other, you're going to succeed.
"...We're still trying to build some chemistry with each other. We've come a long way since August. Communication is going well with us and I think it can just get better."
Colorado and Denver will compete for in-state recruits in the future and figure to play each other every year even if CU eventually leaves the MPSF because there aren't many Division I programs around that don't require a flight to play. Elliott said it would make sense if the programs gradually develop a rivalry, but it will take time for that to happen.
"Every game is a rivalry for us right now and a big game," Elliott said. It's special for us to be able to play another Division I team in the state just down the street. I think it's special for the state of Colorado to now have that type of competition in their backyard."
CU will make its home debut Saturday at noon at Folsom Field against Regis. The program is handing out commemorative lacrosse balls to the first 500 fans. Admission and parking are free in lots 168, 169 and 396.