Photo Credit: DU Men’s Lacrosse
For the second straight week, the No. 3 Unversity of Denver Pioneers lacrosse team played in a ‘winter wonderland’ and for the second straight week, they prevailed. Last weekend, against the Villanova Wildcats the Pioneers eked out a late 12-11 victory. This weekend, DU topped the St. John’s Red Storm 17-10, albeit with less on-field accumulation.
Despite the low temperature and blowing snow, the Pioneers started hot and by the end of the opening quarter, they were up 5-1. Star attackman Connor Cannizzaro led the way with two goals while Austin French, Connor Donahue, and Jock Bobzien all contributed a tally of their own.
As the snow got heavier and the wind got stronger in the second quarter, Denver continued to dominate play. Denver’s and college lacrosse’s best FOGO, Trevor Baptiste kept winning faceoffs and rarely gave the Red Storm a chance to gain a possession. By the end of the first half, Baptiste had won 10 of 14 faceoffs and thanks to his effort, the Pioneers were up 9-3.
“We spent a little bit more time in practice focusing on facing off,” Baptiste said. “I felt like the wing guys played amazing and I think that was a big difference-maker. We were all trying to get on the same page.”
The second half was a different story altogether for the Pioneers. The temperature seemed like it dropped considerably and DU started slowly and without much energy. Passes were lackadaisical and if it wasn’t for the inability of St. John’s to generate sustained offensive opportunities, the Red Storm may have stormed their way back into the game.
“The game was a microcosm of our season,” DU head coach Bill Tierney said. “We did some really amazing things and we were a disaster at times.”
Baptiste was the lone bright spot for DU in the third quarter as he won 8 of 9 faceoffs. His effort helped the Pioneers outscore SJU 6-4 in the quarter. Despite committing three turnovers to St. Johns’ one, Denver continued to dominate the scoreboard.
Halfway through the fourth quarter, with the result all but determined, Tierney decided to send some players onto the field who hadn’t seen much sustained playing time. In the final frame, both Max Planning and Nate Marano got on the scoresheet despite seeing little time on the field earlier in the game.
Finally, as the final buzzer mercifully ended all 500 spectators’ cold misery, the Pioneers walked away with a 17-10 victory despite turning the ball over 15 times.
“We can’t blame [turnovers] on [the weather],” Cannizzaro said. “We just played sloppy and we got to tighten things up.”
Cannizzaro finished the game one goal short of his second straight snowy sock-trick (six goals in one game), but he now has 11 goals in his last two games. On the season, Cannizzaro now has a team-leading 34 goals and 18 assists.
Surprisingly, star midfielder Zach Miller was held without a point for the first time in 47 games. Miller had a number of chances to get on the scoresheet, but his shots seemed to just miss the cage.
“He’s going to get his points and they’ll come in bunches when they do,” Cannizzaro said. “It was a cold game and he was freezing. No one likes the cold weather and no one likes playing in it.”
“We came out of last week’s game in the snow just congratulating [the team],” Tierney continued. “It was much worse than today. Then today I just thought we were a bit up and down.”
Denver stays home next weekend as they welcome Big East opponent Providence College to Peter Barton Lacrosse Stadium. That game is a 10 AM on Saturday, April 23.