Pioneers reach fifth Championship Weekend in seven years with delightfully boring Quarterfinal victory

Photo Courtesy AP Photo

With a 16-4 victory over Notre Dame in the NCAA Quarterfinal round, the University of Denver men’s lacrosse team has earned its fourth trip to Championship Weekend in the last five years. Trevor Baptiste won 21-of-22 faceoffs (no, that’s not a typo) and the Pioneers simply imposed their will on the Irish today.

After Notre Dame’s Mikey Wynne opened the scoring a little more than three minutes into the game, Denver responded by going on a 11-0 run that spanned the rest of the first quarter, the whole second quarter, and into the third quarter. By the end of the run, there was very little doubt which team would win and earn a trip to Memorial Day weekend trip to Boston.

“They played the perfect game against a great opponent,” DU head coach Bill Tierney said in the postgame press conference. “21 out of 23 faceoffs doesn’t hurt either.”

At the risk of being redundant, Trevor Baptiste was once again the story of the day. Thanks to his 21 faceoff wins, Notre Dame’s potent offensive attack was effectively neutralized and Denver’s offense was able to go to work. As a result, the Pioneers methodically dismantled Notre Dame’s vaunted defense and threw a 16-spot on the scoreboard.

Austin French notched four goals and an assist, Connor Cannizzaro chipped in four points, and Ethan Walker added an incredible six points on three goals and three assists. Denver’s win was the largest win for either team in the history of the rivalry between the Pioneers and Irish and Denver’s largest margin of victory in NCAA Tournament play.

Simply put, this is as dominant as Denver has looked since their run to the 2015 national title. With the exception of turnovers, the Pioneers were as good as they’ve ever been in every phase of the game. Even Alex Ready, who wasn’t really needed much at all over the course of the game, was at his best when he was needed, making four saves on eight Irish shots on goal.

The Pioneers will play the winner of tomorrow’s quarterfinal between Maryland and Albany in the NCAA Semifinal round in Boston. The game is set for Saturday afternoon at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts. Stay tuned to LetsGoDU all week as we bring you all the championship coverage.

6 thoughts on “Pioneers reach fifth Championship Weekend in seven years with delightfully boring Quarterfinal victory”

  1. That was a beat down that no one saw coming. If DU plays like that next weekend, they will have a good shot an NCAA title #2. This was a mismatch at Face Off, and I expect other teams to have better face off men than ND put out there. That said, DU’s defense stepped up big today, and made it tough for ND to get good shots.

    Finally, DU coughed up a lot of unforced turnovers today, which will make for some good films study.

    Can’t wait for Foxboro!

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  2. That was the best game that DU lacrosse has ever played, with the possible exception of DU’s beatdown of Maryland in 2015 national title game. And as dominant as Baptiste was, it was the fact that our offense took full advantage of the possession that made the difference today. There have been games where Baptiste has been almost as good, where DU only wins by 4 goals. Not today. Just an awesome all around team effort, led by Baptiste. Notre Dame was not helped by fact that their coach was on verge of tears the whole game.

    Key play: #43 and #41 for Denver knock Perkovic down, and Cannizaro finishes the ensuing odd man rush to make it 5-1. #43 (Thomas?) looked damn good out there. Congrats to DU!

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  3. Here are the face-off stats of the remaining teams in the NCAA tournament and their national ranking:

    1. Trevor Baptiste – Denver .757
    2. TD Irelan – Albany .725
    4. Jake Whiters – Ohio State .661
    9. Alex Woodall – Towson .609
    28. Ben Williams – Syracuse .541
    49. Austin Henningson – Maryland .484

    Pio fans should be rooting for Maryland and Syracuse to win today!

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  4. DU is hard at work confirming details of a pre-game party in Foxboro. I expect it will be in a tented location in the parking lot on Saturday. Stay tuned!

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