Denver Can’t Overcome Sloppy Play, Loses to Penn State

Photo Credit: Penn State Athletics

For the first time since losing to Ohio State last year, a span of 20 games, the No. 1 University of Denver Pioneers lost a lacrosse game. This time, the Pioneers were dispatched at the hands of the unranked, upstart Penn State Nittany Lions by a score of 15-10 at the Patriot Cup in Dallas, Texas.

The Pioneers started the game fast when they jumped out to an early 3-1 lead thanks to goals from Connor Cannizzaro, Joe Reid, and Tyler Pace. By the end of the opening quarter, the Nittany Lions pulled back within 1, but it certainly didn’t feel like they were poised to take over the game.

As soon as the second quarter got underway, PSU took control of the game. They opened the quarter with an early man-up goal and then followed that up with another quick strike to make it 4-3. Penn State didn’t trail the rest of the way.

By the time halftime arrived, the score was 8-6 in favor of PSU, but it might as well have been 18-6. At the half, by his own standards, star FOGO Trevor Baptiste was struggling at the X. Though the stats didn’t exactly bear it out, Denver was struggling to gain possession even on the faceoffs that Baptiste won cleanly. In short, Penn State was winning all the hustle plays and that translated into a surprising halftime lead for the underdogs.

At the beginning of the third quarter, both teams picked up right where they left off. Penn State continued forcing turnovers and winning the groundball battle while the Pioneers continued playing sloppy offense and lackadaisical defense. Over the course of the 3rd quarter, the Nittany Lions outscored the Pioneers 4-1 and entered the fourth quarter up by 5 at 12-7.

Near the end of the game, Penn State expanded their lead to 15-7 before Denver closed the game on a mini three-goal run to cut the deficit back to 5 at 15-10. The Pioneers finished the game well. They pressed hard, they hustled, they won groundball battles, but the effort was too little, too late.

This loss means much less to the Pioneers than the win does to the Nittany Lions. In the grand scheme of things, this was Denver’s last nonconference game of the year. They were likely ready to get into Big East play and focus on winning another conference title before making their NCAA Tournament run. This loss is little more than a bump in the road for DU.

The worst outcome of today’s game was simply the fact that DU’s 20 game winning streak was snapped and they won’t be the No. 1 team in the country when the rankings come out on Monday. That’s it. The Pios’ hopes for winning another National Title remain intact. DU’s plan to win another Big East Title remain unchanged.

Denver will get back down to business this week at practice to correct the obvious mistakes against Penn State before they travel to Washington, D.C. to take on the unranked Georgetown Hoyas at 9 AM MT to open Big East play.