Vanderbilt lacrosse upsets No. 24 Colorado 11-10 in overtime thriller

Vanderbilt upset No. 24 Colorado in overtime, with Cassidy Orban scoring the game-winning goal.

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Vanderbilt lacrosse celebrates its game-winning goal and subsequent upset over No. 24 Colorado. (Hustler Multimedia/Mattigan Kelly)

Simon Gibbs, Sports Editor

Vanderbilt lacrosse took to the field on Sunday for its home opener, welcoming the No. 24 Colorado Buffaloes to the David Williams II Recreation and Wellness Center. While the Commodores entered the game as underdogs, a stellar first half effort, second half comeback and overtime-winner saw them pull off a thrilling 11-10 upset over Colorado.

“It’s huge. I mean, Colorado is an awesome team,” head coach Beth Hewitt said after the one-goal victory. “To know that you’re going up against a ranked opponent—they’re in the conversation every year for NCAA’s, and that’s where we want to get our program to. So it just meant a lot to come out against such a great team.”

The game couldn’t have gotten off to a better start for Vanderbilt, despite facing a top-25 opponent: once junior midfielder Bri Gross controlled the game’s opening draw, junior attacker Callie Sundin found the back of the net off an assist from senior attacker Gabby Fornia. Vanderbilt found itself in possession of a 1-0 lead after just 43 seconds of game time; under two minutes later, Gross extended the lead to 2-0 off a free-position goal.

Vanderbilt’s two-goal lead would be its largest of the day, but the Commodores fought back from multi-goal deficits in both halves, ultimately keeping the game close until the final whistle. Despite Colorado out-shooting Vanderbilt 34-22 in regulation, Vanderbilt’s offensive efficiency and tough defense down the stretch enabled them to force an overtime period.

After three missed shots and nearly six minutes of play in the first, the Buffaloes notched their first goals of the day to mitigate Vanderbilt’s lead. They needed just 30 seconds for both Zoe Lawless and Chloe Willard to find the back of the net, and with roughly 23 minutes remaining in the first half, the Buffaloes had tied the game at two. They added two more over the next six minutes of play, holding a 4-2 lead with 17 minutes remaining in the first half.

Vanderbilt was able to slow down Colorado’s attack later in the first. While the Buffaloes did manage to score one more, Vanderbilt netted three of its own courtesy of Maddie Souza, Elizabeth Scarrone and Fornia to tie the game at five apiece heading into halftime.

A strong ending to the first half for Vanderbilt was met with a second half run by Colorado. The Buffaloes grew their lead to as large as 9-6, with Vanderbilt’s lone goal early in the second coming courtesy of Souza, her second of the game. But the Commodores were far from finished.

Paige Finneran, Cassidy Orban and Gross scored three quick goals, evening the game at 9-9 and forcing Buffalo to call a timeout with over 14 minutes left in the second. From thereon out, both teams played stiff defense and only scored one more apiece. Ultimately, 60 minutes was not enough time—the game went to overtime tied at ten.

After Megan MacGillis controlled the opening draw, Vanderbilt held possession for just over a minute of gametime, until Orban found twine for the second time of the day off an assist from Scarrone. Only this time, her score ended the golden goal overtime period, and the Commodores found themselves with an 11-10 victory over a top-25 Colorado team.

“My goal just happened to be the last one, but every single goal contributed to wining by one,” Orban said after netting the game-winning shot. “Normally, in years past, we’re kind of on the opposite end, and today we got to flip the script.”

Vanderbilt (1-1) will have a few days off before returning to its home field, as the Commodores host Central Michigan on Feb. 24.