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.