Denver falls to Georgetown to BIG EAST title game for second straight year

Photo courtesy DU Athletics

DENVER – Just two days after they played their best, most dominant game of the season in a 17-11 victory in the BIG EAST semifinals, the top-seeded Denver Pioneers laid an egg against the reigning BIG EAST champion Georgetown Hoyas in a 12-9 loss. While the championship game loss didn’t end their season a year ago, barring a shocking decision on the NCAA Tournament selection committee’s part, Denver’s season is over.

Two nights ago, Denver got out to a hot start against the Villanova Wildcats. They played shutdown defense and sent wave after wave toward the Villanova crease and the Wildcats couldn’t find an answer. This afternoon, the Pioneers did a complete 180. Denver couldn’t stop the Georgetown attack as the Hoyas scored on each of their first seven shots on goal while the Pioneers couldn’t find a way to solve Georgetown goalie Chris Brandau.

Denver found a bit of momentum early in the second half to pull back to within one thanks to three straight goals from Jack Hannah, Ethan Walker, and Quinn McKone, but that was as close as the Pioneers would get. The Hoyas adjusted to the Pioneers’ new-found attack efficiency and grabbed control of the game once again.

In all, it was a fitting end to a disappointing season for the Pioneers who will miss the NCAA Tournament for the first time since Bill Tierney took over the program. The Pioneers struggled to find any sustained momentum throughout the year and failed to earn the always-important “signature victory.” Denver was an inconsistent team all year and Georgetown was able to exploit that in the championship game to end DU’s season.

There will be plenty of time to diagnose just what exactly went wrong for the Pioneers over the next eight months but for now, for the players and coaching staff, this stings. The University of Denver put this city on the lacrosse map and made it a hotbed and while losing in the conference title game and missing the NCAA Tournament doesn’t change that, it is extremely frustrating to fall short like this. With Bill Tierney at the helm, the Pioneers will not be down long but you can be sure that he and his staff will fully diagnose what went wrong and make the necessary changes before the 2020 season begins.

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3 thoughts on “Denver falls to Georgetown to BIG EAST title game for second straight year”

  1. Add a weird schedule, too. One month on the road following the opening season home stand. Playing two poor RPI teams to start the season – Utah and Cleveland State. Then, giving up a home game to play Notre Dame in California. Then, getting snowed out of a trip to Ohio State with an opportunity to get a quality road win. There was never any consistency. I hope DU does not give away anymore home games – the season is short. Also, DU does not have to be the only program willing to play new programs. In many ways, much of this was not on the players. I sensed a team that was never really comfortable

  2. This was an entire lax season of underachievement, considering the high standards that Tierney and Co. have set here over the last decade. From the first game against Duke where DU gagged-up a big fourth quarter lead to lose, to the horrible start at Notre Dame, to the faceplant start at Princeton, to the first regular season Big East loss in six years to Villanova, to today’s turd performance in the Big East title game, this DU team just wasn’t good enough and it was obvious. Georgetown kicked DU butt all over the field for three of the four quarters on home turf.

    I think we DU fans have become somewhat spoiled and expect deep playoff runs every year, and given how much parity now exists in college lacrosse, this long run of DU excellence may now be eroding into history.

    Sure, season-ending injuries to Dylan Johnson and Ellis Geis did not help and forced the Pioneers to make some switches that were not as good. And poor goaltending for long stretches of this season didn’t help either. And an offense that once prided itself on shooting accuracy that also fell into long stretches of inaccurate shooting. And a man-up unit that was among the worst in the country.

    Knowing how competitive the DU coaching staff and players are, I expect to see more evolution next season. But it’s just as likely that DU’s best lax days may be behind it, and that the dominance DU once enjoyed is now receding as other schools improve…

    The sport is growing so fast at the Youth and High School Level, but it’s not really growing at the college level for men anymore, so the influx of new talent is evening out the talent levels in college lacrosse, making it very hard for great programs like DU to stay great…

  3. Winning a national title is huge, and DU should be immensely proud of that. But when you consider that DU had the best faceoff guy in history for four years, made it to the final four a few times, and only won one national title…sadly, the program has underachieved, and has now clearly plateaued. Hope they turn this funk around.

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