Colorado head coach Ann Elliott Whidden.
Colorado head coach Ann Elliott Whidden.

The sudden resurgence has been more about simply getting an extended opportunity to practice together as any tactical adjustment.

Such was the basic assessment offered this week by Colorado women’s lacrosse head coach Ann Elliott Whidden, whose club has overcome the most frustrating start in the program’s relatively short history to once again get in position to land an NCAA Tournament berth.

Unfortunately for the Buffs, the squad once again will have to deal with an unexpected change of plan.

CU was set to take a four-game winning streak into the final Pac-12 Conference game of the season on Friday night at Oregon, but late Thursday afternoon the contest was canceled due to coronavirus concerns within the Ducks’ program. It is the second CU-Oregon matchup that has been canceled this season and the third overall this season for CU.

The Buffs (7-5, 4-3 Pac-12) complete the regular season next week with a nonconference game at Denver. The Pac-12 tournament begins May 5 at Stanford.

“This year has just been tough. It’s been tough on everybody,” Elliott Whidden said. “Every few weeks we have a few ups and downs, and we’re dealing with things people don’t notice just looking at the games or box scores. I think when this team is able to practice fully we have the ability to do great things. But we face struggles just like everybody else that have kept people out of practice, or caused us from not to be able to practice at all. And it has cost us a little bit on the field.

“I think over the last couple weeks we’ve been able to get a little confidence in ourselves. We’ve been able to start putting some things together just by practicing and getting a little more prepared for the games as a whole. I think this team, while we have a lot of players that are back, we didn’t enter the season as an extremely experienced team. Even some of our older players were young in terms of the game time that they’ve had, or in terms of playing in the role they’re in now. It’s just been a little bit of an uphill battle for us. And that’s not an excuse. We could’ve done things better and helped ourselves out. We’re just trying to take advantage now of what we can down the stretch.”

Following a 16-11 loss at Arizona State on March 28, CU was just 3-5 overall with a 1-3 mark in the Pac-12. The Buffs finally got rolling by sweeping USC and Arizona State at home before topping UC Davis and Cal on the road two weeks ago.

Stanford already has clinched the Pac-12 regular-season title, and the Buffs missed opportunities to gain more traction in the league standings due to two previous canceled games — a March 12 home game against Oregon and a date at Stanford two weeks ago. The Buffs suddenly have been met with an abrupt end to the Pac-12 schedule but still have a chance to pick up what would be a solid nonconference road win next week at Denver.

“In terms of our mindset, we fully believe we’re in control,” Elliott Whidden said. “I fully believe we’re capable of doing great things. We’ve just got to get out of our own way in certain aspects and be together and be ready to compete.”