Denver weathers Red Storm’s comeback, wins 15-6 in BIG EAST home opener

photo courtesy of Denver Athletics

Just the fourth home game of the 2018 season, the No. 2/3-ranked University of Denver Pioneers topped the St. John’s University Red Storm 15-6 in the windy, but sunny BIG EAST home opener on Saturday, April 14.

Denver (9-2, 3-0 BIG EAST) repeated its pattern of a slow start coming out of the locker room following the half as the Red Storm gained promising momentum, fortunately an explosive second quarter with six goals propelled the Pioneers to the victory.

“It was a good win against a good team,” DU head coach Bill Tierney said. “And yet what we [as coaches] know and expressed to them after the game is if you’re going to make run at this thing you have to be consistent for 60-minutes like we were last week [against Villanova]. I thought today we were a little erratic. We started okay, but we just weren’t sharp with the little things. We had a great second quarter and that was as good as we could be.”

Nine different goal scorers contributed to the 15-6 final. Junior attackman Austin French was just shy of a sock trick, with five goals scored in the afternoon. Senior midfielder Joe Reid posted a career-high four points on three goals and one assist. Senior attackman Colton McCaffrey added a team-high of 3 assists. 

Two games removed from a shaken up starting midfield line, Denver has managed the adversity extremely well. With junior Johns Hopkins transfer Drew Supinski and senior LSM Sean Mayle unable to play due to personal reasons, the Pioneers have had to incorporate alternates into bigger offensive roles. Reid and freshman Teddy Sullivan have filled the dominant presences needed in the midfield line alongside junior Colton Jackson. Sullivan scored one goal in the afternoon. 

“I think Teddy Sullivan and Joe Reid are just doing a phenomenal job,” Austin French said. “They both got put on the starting line last week really and both stepped up when they got put on the starting line. I think they’re both gaining a lot of confidence. We really have four starters right now, even though there’s three on a line, we really have four guys who could be starters. Everyone has a lot of confidence in our offense right now and our chemistry is flowing. We’re peaking at the right time which is what we always hope for.”

Senior midfielder Connor Donahue suited up for the first time in two games since sustaining a lower body injury. The midfielder saw a few runs of action.

The Red Storm (6-6, 0-3 BIG EAST) cut the deficit down to 13-4 in the third quarter and held the Pioneers to two goals in the final 15-minutes of action. St. John’s would add two goals in the final quarter. 

“We got a quick one the third quarter and everyone starts to think, ‘Okay this it’s over.’ I just thought we just lost sight of who we are what we’re supposed to do out here,” Tierney said. “On the other hand, it was a really a good win and a really good win in the league. We’ll take it.”

Faceoff extraordinaire Trevor Baptiste finished the day 19-for-24 at the X. Sophomore Josh Matte played 45-minutes in the cage before junior Alex Ready relieved Matte at the start of the fourth quarter. Matte relinquished four goals and made eight saves in his fifth-consecutive victory. Ready made two saves and allowed two goals.

“Josh had a really good game,” Tierney said. “If we get eight saves, which he [Matte] gave us and gave up four goals, I’ll take that any time. That’s 66%. Then Alex goes in and gives up two goals, but he makes two saves as well. Our goalies — if they continue the way they did today — we’re going to be fine.”

The Pioneers travel to Providence next weekend to play the Providence College Friars. Faceoff is scheduled for 11 a.m. MT. Denver will return to Peter Barton for the final game of the regular season against Marquette University on Saturday, April 28.