The 17th-ranked Denver Pioneers (16-3) women’s lacrosse team made school history on May 12, 2019 in Ann Arbor, Mich., exacting a revenge upset on the #7th-ranked University of Michigan Wolverines (16-4) , 9-5 in the second round of the NCAA tournament. DU now advances to the NCAA Elite Eight for the first time in program history, and will play the top-ranked University of Maryland Terrapins on May 18 at 5pm MT for a trip to the NCAA final four.
Michigan had beaten Denver 12-10 at DU’s Barton Stadium earlier this season, and the Pioneers were in no mood to allow Michigan to win again.
Quintin Hoch-Bullen, a sophomore attacker from Orillia, Ontario, led the Crimson and Gold with a five-goal performance, firing in two goals in the first half and adding three more in the second half. Katherine Fischer held down the Denver defense, totaling four caused turnovers and limiting the Wolverines to just five goals in a ferocious defensive contest.
“This is a very special moment for our team,” said DU head coach Liza Kelly. “To be able to advance to the quarterfinals, with this group of girls, is such an unbelievable experience. They have worked so hard all season long, and I’m excited to see what comes next in our journey.”
The defense was in full force all game, with 14 Pioneers tallying at least one ground ball, and three contributing to Denver’s nine draw controls. Senior Audrey Schreck totaled five draws and Fischer accumulated four ground balls to lead the Crimson and Gold.
DU’s standout goalie, Carson Gregg spent all 60 minute in net, totaling six saves for the win.
The Crimson and Gold dominated Michigan in most statistical categories, accumulating 29 shots, 23 ground balls, nine draws, six saves and going a perfect 19-19 on clears. The Wolverines posted 19 shots, 12 ground balls, seven draws, 11 saves and went 20-22 on clears.
A scoreless first 18 minutes was broken by Hoch-Bullen with 12:12 remaining the in first half. Bea Behrins followed four minutes later to put the Pioneers at a 2-0 lead, but Michigan scored its first of the game less than a minute later. Hoch-Bullen closed out the half with a goal on the free position, putting the Pioneers up 3-1 heading into halftime, the lowest scoring half this season for DU.
Hoch-Bullen was once again the first to score in the second half, bringing Denver to a 4-1 lead with 25 minutes remaining in the game. Radochonski followed suit with her first goal of the game at the 23-minute mark. Ten minutes later Elizabeth Behrins scored her first with a shot to the top right shelf right past the Michigan goalie. Less than a minute later, the Wolverines responded, narrowing Denver’s lead to three at 6-3. Liddy scored her 15th goal of the season off a free position to increase the Crimson and Gold’s lead to four, followed by another goal from Hoch-Bullen. The Wolverines posted two more before the final whistle, but it wasn’t enough to make a comeback, leaving the Pioneers with a 9-5 victory.
The Pioneers will next travel to College Park, Maryland for yet another revenge showdown on May 18 with the top-ranked Maryland Terrapins, who crushed the Pioneers in last year’s NCAA tournament second round in College Park, 15-4. DU has never beaten Maryland in the three all-time games between the programs. If DU were to upset Maryland next week, it would be one of the greatest upsets in NCAA history. Maryland is 19-1 this season and is the best team in the country, destroying #15th ranked Stony Brook, 17-8 in its second round game on May 12.
The Terps are coached by Cathy Nelson Reese, who was DU’s head coach from 2004 to 2006, before becoming Maryland’s head coach in 2007, her alma mater. Reese has since won four NCAA titles at Maryland.
Some 10 current Pioneers and DU head coach Liza Kelly also hail from the Old Line State, marking a homecoming for them, as well as four more DU players from nearby Virginia and several more players and staffers also from the East Coast, making for a likely good visiting crowd of DU parents and friends in Capital One Field at Maryland Stadium next week.