Photo Credit: Sasha Kandrach
For the second straight day, the No. 2 University of Denver Pioneers took on a team from the northeast and won by double digits. This time, the Pioneers’ victim was the unranked Dartmouth College Big Green. Paced by three goals and three assists from midfielder Tyler Pace and two goals and three assists from attackman Connor Cannizzaro, the Pioneers easily dispatched the Big Green.
The first quarter was dominated by the Pioneers as they scored seven straight goals and held the Big Green without a shot on goal for the first 15 minutes of the game. About a minute and a half into the game, Pace opened the scoring after a great individual effort to beat Dartmouth goalie, Blair Friedensohn.
“I was just getting into the right place at the right time,” Pace said. “Our offense is all team-generated, so the guys out there did what they needed to do.”
Six goals later, including two straight from star midfielder Zach Miller less than a minute apart, Denver entered the first break with a commanding 7-0 lead and 9-0 lead in shots on goal. It was the first time since April 3, 2015 against Villanova that the Pioneers held an opponent without a shot on goal for a full quarter.
“We talked a lot over the last 24 hours about getting off to a really good start,” DU head coach Bill Tierney said. “I thought our first quarter was as good as it gets. They shot the ball extremely well.”
Despite the Pioneers’ offensive onslaught in the first quarter, the crimson and gold were unable to sustain the pressure in the second frame. Only three goals were scored by both teams in the second quarter, but two of them were scored by Dartmouth.
If it wasn’t for a great feed from Cannizzaro to Connor Donahue with just 2:21 left in the first half, the Pioneers would have been held scoreless in the second quarter.
At halftime, the score was 8-2 in favor of Denver, but based solely on the level of intensity from the Dartmouth faithful in attendance, it certainly felt like it was 8-6.
DU picked up right where they left off in the 2nd quarter as they allowed Dartmouth to score the first goal of the 2nd half less than four minutes into play.
On the ensuing faceoff, Dartmouth’s Evan Key was whistled for unnecessary roughness after tackling DU’s star FOGO Trevor Baptiste into the ground. Ten seconds after the penalty was called and DU was on the man-up, Brendan Bomberry found the back of the net after another great feed from Cannizzaro.
“When their player hit Trevor [Baptiste], our guys don’t like that,” Tierney said. “They know what Trevor means to us. They got fired up and scored some quick goals after that. That’s the sign of a good team.”
Two minutes later, Cannizzaro repeated the effort when he found Pace down low to help complete Pace’s hat trick.
After Dartmouth answered Pace’s third goal two minutes later, Denver finished the game on a 6-2 run. Cannizzaro contributed his two goals during the run and scored his second with just one second left in the third quarter.
The fourth quarter’s focus for the Pioneers was to just get to the final buzzer. Hunter Krout and David Winsor split time in DU’s goalie crease during the final frame while Max Planning and Nate Marano provided the Pioneers with two goals. Thanks to Planning’s and Marano’s goals, the Pioneers extended their streak of 10 or more goal scorers to 3 games.
The incredible depth of scoring talent has been a feature of Matt Brown’s offense since he was hired as an assistant in 2008. In both games this weekend, the Pioneers had 11 different goal scorers. These two games marked the 11th and 12th times since Brown’s arrival that DU has had 10 or more different goal scorers.
After these two relatively easy victories against unranked teams, the road for the Pioneers gets significantly more difficult as they travel to No. 12 North Carolina and No. 1 Notre Dame over the next two weeks.
“Carolina is a big week for us,” Pace said. “They beat us last year, so it’s kind of a redemption thing. They were one of the two teams to beat us, so it’s a really big thing for us to win.”
The Pioneers are happy to be sitting at 4-0, but the next two weeks will help shape the 2016 Pioneers’ identity.
“We have the talent. That’s pretty evident,” Tierney said. “It’s can you maintain it for a long time, can you keep the pedal down when you’re going well, and can you regroup and not panic when it’s not going so well.”
The next two weeks will answer all of those questions as they relate to the 2016 Denver Pioneers lacrosse team.
Miller increased his point streak to 41 straight games while Cannizzaro extended his to 29; Cannizzaro also extended his goal streak to 29 games; Pace’s hat trick was the 8th of his career; Baptiste was 17-of-25 in faceoffs; Dartmouth took 7 penalties compared to Denver’s 2; Denver was 4-for-7 on extra-man opportunities while Dartmouth was 1-for-2; Attendance was 2,631, the 7th largest in Peter Barton Lacrosse Stadium history.
Saturday, March 5
at North Carolina
11:00 AM MT
Watch: ESPN3 (Live)/ESPNU (9:30 PM, Tape Delayed)
Listen: 104.3 FM