Great Danes win Quarterfinal dogfight to end Denver’s season

photo courtesy of laxbuzz

There was no stopping the high-powered No. 2-seeded University of Albany Great Danes from advancing to their first ever Championship Weekend with a 15-13 Quarterfinal win over the University of Denver Pioneers. The energy, the hard-hits and the passion from the Great Danes was unbeatable. The game came down to dogfight across the entirety of the field and it was evident, the Great Danes wanted it more. The efforts from Denver to stay in the game were too little, too late. The battle between the greatest career faceoff and the greatest faceoff of the season matched the anticipated hype. Trevor Baptiste and TD Ierlan exemplified power versus finesse and drew an even battle. Ierlan didn’t back down from the undisputed faceoff champ of college lacrosse, the sophomore’s sharpness and intricate footwork challenged Baptiste.

Both players demonstrated the redefinition of the FOGO position throughout the epic battle. Ierlan set the all-time single-season record for faceoff wins in the Quarterfinal, with 340. Baptiste drew a penalty and capitalized on the play to score in his final appearance for the Crimson and Gold.

While the clash at the X was insanity, the game came down to the defensive performances. The offensive powerhouses were equally faced with an uncharacteristic position of minimal possessions that only increased in magnitude as the game ensued.

Denver’s dominant defense faced its match with aggression and relent exerted from the exuberant Albany offense. Through methodical precision and tenacity, the Great Danes were able to dismember and disrupt the synchronization of DU’s defense and beat Alex Ready in the cage. While Ready made 15 saves, Albany’s offensive production was steady and the Great Danes seized the opportunities presented.

The Pioneers remained within three goals of the Great Danes until the final quarter. The intensity from each team was overwhelming. Every time Albany extended its cushion, the Pioneers were right there to diminish the lead.

Colton Jackson kept the Pioneers in the game. Immense coverage on DU’s attackmen Austin French and Ethan Walker provided Jackson with time and space. The junior power-midfielder blasted four, absolute rockets throughout the game to keep Denver’s hopes alive.

Ultimately, wreckless turnovers cost the Pioneers crucial offensive possessions. The Great Danes forced nine Denver turnovers. The Pioneers knew coming into the game that each possession would be vital, but Albany’s defense was effective with overbearing pressure and obstructing Denver’s shooting game.

The Pioneers fought until the very end. When Kyle McClancy scored his third of the afternoon to extend Albany’s lead to four goals at 15-11 for the first time in the game, the Pioneers responded with a hat trick goal from Joe Reid and Colton McCaffrey’s second of the day.

The final faceoff was won by Ierlan allowing the Great Danes to hold on until time expired. Denver ends the 2018 season with a record of an overall 13-4 and a BIG EAST confernce record of 5-0.

7 thoughts on “Great Danes win Quarterfinal dogfight to end Denver’s season”

  1. Darn good game. Good faceoff matchup, lots of 3 goal runs, not too many horrible turnovers. Colton Jackson was awesome. Unfortunately, Ethan Walker was mostly invisible. Turning point of the game was when we made it 12-11, wingman made a great play on the ground ball, carried it up the field well, and then did nothing with a point blank chance. DU would have tied it there with all the momentum. Oh well. Have to say that DU lacrosse is underperforming overall with just one national title after so many NCAA appearances and the best coach in the land. And most glaringly, the best face off guy in history for the last four years. Hopefully there is an answer to getting this good program out of this stalled phase.


  2. Tough loss. Likely a 90 second shot click next season so Denver will have to retool their offense and get more offensive ‘creators’. Also, lots of seniors graduating so next season may be a transition year in the improving Big EAST.

    What a treat Trevor was to watch for 4 years.


  3. Great game – Albany was the better team and proved it.

    The Pios this year gave us a lot of great moments, particularly the North Carolina, Villanova and Notre Dame victories where DU played like the awesome, national contending teams Tierney gives us almost every season.

    But this year there were a lot more turnovers, stalled offensive games, and some seriously stupid losses of two great upperclassmen players to academic issues that hurt DU’s wing play, midfield depth and tourney advancement chances.

    Moreover, I can’t help thinking that the Pioneers era of dominant lacrosse may now be in the declining phase and that our expectations to make it to championship weekend every year are now perhaps too great, as the game has caught up to DU…

    The game is moving toward more speed, shot clocks, creativity, transition and better athletes at every position, as we saw from Albany, who had plenty of speed and skill, but also jaw-dropping physicality from Nanticoke.

    DU clearly has evolved its intricate offensive innovation under Matt Brown to dominant (in most years) 6-on-6 unit that shows patience and thrives on the ball possession that Baptiste provided with face-off wins. But this year, DU’s offense had fallen to #22 in the country, and other defenses have now adapted to Denver’s offense and could often shut down the Pios this year. DU didn’t really didn’t have enough speed or dodgers, and Albany proved that if it could shut down Walker and French, that DU would not have enough offensive firepower to beat the Danes.

    In a larger sense, culturally, Tierney’s regimented, old school, clean-cut, clean-shaven players were also quite a contrast from the long hair and freewheeling style of Albany. Tierney’s scowling and yelling on the sideline are also quite a contrast to Albany coach Scott Marr, who was smiling and high-fiving his players all afternoon with his own Barry Melrose-ish hair.

    Don’t get me wrong – I love old school coaches, short hair and coat-and-tie formality. But I am also not the 18-22 year old athlete of today. Kids today love to play fast in all sports. They often don’t want highly structured systems that slow the game down. I also think spectators want to see the speed of the game, the transition game, the higher risk dodges and one-on-one battles.

    My big idea is that DU can’t stay stuck in past – they need to evolve, and I think we need to see a bit more of Albany in the future Pios if they want to stay relevant in a changing game and a changing society.

    Tierney and Brown are great coaches, but we need them to evolve a bit…


  4. Don’t over-react. This season was far from being a failure. This team IMHO over-achieved. There was a slight drop in talent level compared to previous teams, but still, we had enough studs on offense and defense to be contenders.. Lots returning next year. There is a reload for next year on its way with some frosh in place already and primed to contribute immediately. We came pretty close to making the final 4 in a game many think was the most entertaining lax game they have ever watched.. Albany was our worst possible match-up for they eliminated our FO advantage. (and they are really good) If we had beaten Gtown in BE tourney final, seeds would have been different and maybe no Albany in quarters. A shot clock is coming, so we will have to speed up our offense some. Tierney/Brown seem to know how to adjust.


  5. This season wasn’t a failure. Anytime you make the NCAAs, it’s a successful season to me. Plenty of good teams don’t make it to the dance.

    We saw some great lax this year, too. We saw the greatest face off man in the history of the sport play for the Pioneers. DU’s defense was actually better this year than anyone expected with the emergence of the law firm of Squires, Johnson and Gaines. Ethan Walker was often really dynamic on the offensive end, and Colton Jackson’s corner-pick zingers from the outside are worth the price of admission by themselves. We saw Ted Sullivan emerge as a solid freshman starter, too.

    But there is also evidence of some decline…

    We saw turnovers and defensive lapses become crushing, as DU gave away whole quarters in some important games.
    We saw an offense (once a national leader) fall into the mid-pack.
    We saw two great players become academically ineligible.
    We saw goaltending that was frightfully inconsistent.

    Next year will be tough without Baptiste and his possession advantages – that will be the biggest loss. Let’s hope a new face-off guy emerges who can be at least 50%.

    Losing McCaffrey, Reid, Donahue, Bosher and Flynn will hurt, too, but I think those guys are replaceable from the existing roster of returners. More playing time for guys like Kyle Smith, Thomas Tenney, Riley Curtis and Thomas Semple, plus another year of experience for Walker, French, Jackson, Sullivan, Rutan and hopefully Supinski, plus a whole new crop of freshmen

    DU will also need to find two more SSDMs as Philips and Runberg graduate. Danny Logan can’t do it all by himself.

    Sean Mayle was a great longstick midfielder, and it will be interesting to see how that position develops.

    This was not a great goaltending year. Let’s hope someone reliable emerges there.

    ps Ready can be that guy? Or someone else?


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