DU women’s lacrosse survives USC rally, advances to NCAA Sweet 16

The DU women’s lacrosse program waited nearly a quarter century to host its first NCAA Tournament regional.

Naturally, the first women’s tournament matchup at Peter Barton Stadium came with a few tense moments.

After racing out to a 6-0 lead in Friday afternoon’s first-round matchup with Southern Cal, the fifth-seeded Pioneers survived a six-goal surge from the Trojans to escape with a 10-7 victory before a raucous home crowd.

Senior attacker Julia Gilbert scored all three of her goals in a dramatic fourth period, pushing the Pios to 20-0-0 on the season and a Sweet 16 matchup at 1 p.m. Sunday at Barton Stadium. They play the winner of Friday night’s Albany-Virginia game.

DU’s bid at perfection appeared very much in doubt entering the fourth period, after USC (16-4-0) tied the score at 6-all on Isabelle Vitale’s goal with 3:55 left in the third.

That’s when Gilbert came to life, scoring off a free position shot with the Pios a player up just 1:12 into the fourth. She scored again just two minutes later off an assist from senior Trinity McPherson to put DU ahead for good at 8-7, and later added an insurance score with 2:33 for her team-leading 53rd goal of the season.

Freshman Ryan Dineen had two goals and two assists, while sophomore Lauren Black notched a hat trick of her own, with all three of her goals coming in succession to put the Pios ahead 5-0 with 13:32 left in the second period. Caroline Colimore tacked on a goal to go up 6-0 at the 11:16 mark, but DU didn’t score again until the fourth period.

The Trojans mounted their rally after that with six straight goals between the second and third periods, five of which came in the third. But DU’s defense stiffened in the fourth, with the Trojans putting just one shot on net in the final 15 minutes.

Pioneers goaltender Emelia Bohi made five saves for the Pios, including one near the end of the third period that kept the game knotted at 6-all entering the final period.

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