The battle to determine the MPSF's regular season champion and the number one seed in the conference's postseason tournament gained a little more clarity on Friday.
After suffering two out-of-conference losses in March, USC rattled off three decisive victories in a row before traveling to Oregon to play the Ducks yesterday. The ninth-ranked Trojans got off to a fast start, jumping out to a 7-1 lead in the first half to all but eliminate Oregon's home-field advantage. Oregon cut the lead to five early in the second half after Shannon Williams scored back-to-back goals for the Ducks, but from there USC went on a 6-0 run to effectively ice the game.
Losing 17-7 at home relegated Oregon to the middle of the pack in the conference, while the decisive road victory put USC in an excellent position to repeat as league champions. They're now 4-0 in conference play.
USC's victory injected Friday's Colorado-Stanford matchup with even more significance, as the winner would keep pace with USC in the conference standings while the loser would fall a game behind. History wasn't on Colorado's side. Coming into the game, they'd lost six straight games to Stanford. But it was Senior Day at Colorado's Kittredge Field, and the sixth-ranked Buffaloes played like it, jumping out to a 6-1 lead. Stanford responded by scoring four straight goals, but Colorado pulled away in the second half to win 13-8.
With the victory, Colorado improved to 12-1 on the season, including a perfect 4-0 record in conference play, tying them with USC for first place. The victory set up what could be a preview of the conference championship game, as Colorado travels to Southern California to play USC on April 14.
"We know how big of a game that is," said Colorado coach Ann Elliot. "We know how good they are playing right now and they have grown a lot. They have a lot of young kids that are very talented that have a lot of confidence right now. For us it's going to be about improving and doing a lot of the little things right. We have to make sure we control what we can control down the stretch."