Photo: Courtesy of Georgia Peachy
The Denver Pioneers honed a 15-6 win in a western showdown against the NCAA’s newest addition the University of Utah Utes. The No. 8-ranked Pioneers struggled to find a consistent rhythm and committed senseless errors that troubled the coaching staff but still managed the victory.
“I’m bewildered by this team,” coach Tierney said candidly postgame. “That’s what I told them in the locker room. You see five-minute spurts of what could be greatness. But then you see dumb, selfish, soft things going on out there. We’re trying to put our finger on it. We’re working hard. We’ve got older guys and younger guys — we’ve got to remember that we’ve even got some older guys out there who haven’t played much for us before — but even so, we’re not getting that flow or synch going.
“Credit to a team like Utah for coming out and playing hard. It’s a first-year program.”
- Denver had eight different goal-scorers, headlined by hat trick performances from junior Ethan Walker and freshmen Drew Erickson and Ellis Geis. Sophomore midfielder Jack Hannah dished a team-high three assists.
- After displaying a tremendous effort and ultimately falling 10-9 to Duke last weekend, this weekend playing an NCAA newcomer required a different mindset but demanded the Pioneers hold themselves accountable. “The biggest thing we determined going into the weekend was that you have to respect your opponent,” senior captain Colton Jackson said. “It doesn’t matter who you’re playing, but you if you respect them you’re going to play your best. It was a little different than usual today with Utah because we didn’t know much about them since it’s their first year. So, we just had to focus on ourselves and focus on what we do best to win.”
- Despite the winning result, coach Tierney was dissatisfied by the overall effort put forth by his team and seemingly senseless mistakes made. Similar to Denver’s season opener against Air Force where the Pioneers scored 11 goals on 49 shots, DU scored 15 goals on 43 shots today. On the man-up, the Pioneers only converted once on five attempts. Denver committed 20 turnovers and struggled in its transition game.
- It wasn’t the cleanest effort put forth by the Pioneers who faced an incredibly young (34 freshmen), inexperienced Utah squad, but Denver’s youth rose to the occasion. Freshman midfielder Alex Simmons scored two highlight-worthy goals, after notching a clutch game-tying goal in the last 19 seconds of play last weekend against Duke. “I think the biggest thing for us offensively, is trying to get guys to buy into the system,” Jackson said. “It’s a process because the younger guys are used to doing everything themselves in high school and that doesn’t always work here in college. But I think today you saw guys like [Simmons], [Geis] and [Erickson] all buy into coach Brown’s offense and they were successful.”
— Denver Mens Lacrosse (@DU_MLAX) February 23, 2019
- Fortunately, Denver excelled today at the X. Freshman faceoff specialist Brett Boos went 21-for-25 for the day and was 14-for-14 to start the second half. “[Brett] did really well for us today,” coach Tierney said. “And we’ve got another good one coming in for us next year. So, we feel really good about that.”
- Denver’s defense displayed a steady performance, despite missing starter junior Colin Squires who missed the game with a lower-body injury. Senior LSM Brett Greenlee filled Squires spot and excelled alongside seniors at close defense Dylan Gaines and Dylan Johnson. “The good news is defensively I do think we played really well,” coach Tierney said. “I think that first group out there makes it difficult for the other team to score.”
- Alex Ready made 10 saves through the first three quarters before being replaced in net by sophomore Josh Matte. Matte made one save in his 12:47 of action.
- Denver turns around tomorrow to face a skilled and vengeful Cleveland State team who surged a late rally but lost 11-8 to Air Force earlier today. “It’s frustrating knowing you have to turn around and play a team tomorrow that has everything to gain and nothing to lose,” coach Tierney said. “We’re expecting a lot of energy from them and a lot of pent up frustration from them today. Hopefully, we’ll play better and be a little more mindful of things when we have the ball.”