Photo courtesy DU Athletics
It may not have been made for television, and thank goodness it wasn’t televised, but the #1 University of Denver Pioneers rose above sloppy play and took advantage of many mistakes made by the Cleveland State Vikings to win 19-6 at Peter Barton Lacrosse Stadium.
Sloppy is the only word that comes to mind when thinking about this game. Ugly is the word that comes to mind thinking about the first quarter though. After the opening 15 minutes, the Pios had just a 5-4 lead on the Vikings and it seemed that the fledgling program had upset on their minds. Denver’s All-American FOGO Trevor Baptiste started slow at the X and the Vikings took advantage.
“Nobody’s kidding anybody. There’s a lot of emotion in this game,” DU head coach Bill Tierney said. “Facing off is a unique science. With Trevor, the [Cleveland State] kid was quick. He wins a couple, scores on the faceoff, we take a stupid penalty, we go down for two minutes, and now they’re feeling it.”
After scoring the game’s opening goal, Denver didn’t have the lead again until Max Planning scored with 17 seconds left in the first quarter to break a 4-4 tie.
The second quarter was a completely different story and it set the stage for Denver’s domination over the course of the rest of the game. They outscored the Vikings 6-0 in the 2nd frame to cap off a 10-1 run and take an 11-4 lead into the locker room.
“I thought once we settled down, once that first quarter ended, we started playing our offense,” Tierney said. “Once we started getting composed defensively, I thought it was a good game.”
Denver outscored Cleveland State 8-2 the rest of the way and, simply put, they looked like they were supposed to look in the second half. They gave up two goals in the third and none in the fourth.
By the end of the game, players who don’t normally see much playing time like Kyle Smith, Grant Gravitt, and David Funes saw the field and contributed to a Matt Brown record 14 different goal-scorers. Connor Cannizzaro and Ethan Walker both notched 5 points each, but it was the other role players who shined today and demonstrated the kind of depth that Denver will be able to lean on as the season wears on.
While Denver was able to pick up a dominant win, there are some concerns surrounding the result of this game. As dominant as they were, they didn’t play as well as they should have. Balls weren’t staying in sticks, careless turnovers were happening, and questionable shots were being taken throughout the game. In essence, if they repeat this performance against North Carolina next weekend and Notre Dame the weekend after, Denver will be looking at two straight weeks in the loss column.
The Pios do have another game tomorrow against Canisius to get things back on track heading into the UNC game, so it’s not time to begin worrying just yet. In the end, Denver got the win and that’s what matters.
Denver will hit the field again tomorrow afternoon against Canisius, who lost to Air Force 15-10 this morning. Faceoff is scheduled for 1:30 PM again. Today’s game was the 35th sellout in DU history despite the cold weather, so if you plan on attending tomorrow, get your tickets ASAP.