Pioneers Remain Unbeaten in BIG EAST Behind Ethan Walker’s Record-Breaking Performance

There is a new name at the top of the Denver Men’s Lacrosse all-time points leaderboard. With a goal near the end of the first half against the Marquette Golden Eagles (1-6, 0-5 BIG EAST), Ethan Walker officially passed Wes Berg on DU’s all-time points list with his 256th of his storied career as a Pioneer. Thanks to that goal, two hat tricks from Jack Hannah and JJ Sillstrop, and an impressive 8-save, 61.5% performance by goaltender Jack Thompson, the Pioneers (8-2, 6-0 BIG EAST) beat the Golden Eagles 16-6 at Peter Barton Lacrosse Stadium on a picturesque early spring Saturday afternoon in Denver.

There was little doubt that Ethan Walker would pass 2015 national champion Wes Berg on the leaderboard when the season started. Walker has been a prolific scorer during his four, now five years at Denver. It seems like the only thing that he hasn’t been able to do at DU is win a national title, something Berg checked off of his bucket list as a senior in 2015. Now, with Walker’s passing and scoring touch combined with the best faceoff tandem in the country in TD Ierlan and Alec Stathakis, the 2021 Pioneers are starting to feel at least a little bit like that 2015 squad.

The other thing that the 2015 team had? Excellent goaltending and today, Jack Thompson showed Denver fans a glimpse of what he’s capable of doing when he’s on his game. With eight saves on 13 shots on goal, Thompson – at times singlehandedly – kept the Pioneers in front, In the second quarter, with Marquette buzzing after scoring two quick goals to close the DU lead to 4-3, Thompson took control of the game from his crease and picked up his offensive teammates when they couldn’t add to the lead.

But it wasn’t just Thompson that kept Marquette’s offense at bay. It was Denver’s defense that gave Thompson plenty of support in front of the crease that forced a number of shot clock violations and 16 turnovers overall. Denver has been known as a high-octane offensive-minded team but it has been their defense that has made the Pioneers as dominant as they have been since dropping those two games against Duke and UNC in North Carolina.

It was a perfectly balanced game for the Pioneers in all phases as 11 different Pioneers found the back of the net. Between Sillstrop’s and Hannah’s hat tricks, they only accounted for six of Denver’s 16 goals. Ted Sullivan added two of his own while eight other Pioneers scored one apiece. It’s that kind of balanced attack with an elite defense that is going to take the Pioneers to where they want to go, in Hartford, at the end of May.

TD Ierlan, Jackson Morrill, and Lucas Cotler have grabbed the headlines as the Pios’ elite transfers who have performed at a high level since donning the crimson and gold but this team, all 67 of them together, are beginning to show the lacrosse world who they really are as they’re easily coasting through their BIG EAST schedule. Yeah, it’s the BIG EAST, not the ACC but don’t tell Bill Tierney that. This is what the Pioneers expect to do day-in, day-out, regardless of who their opponent is.

Bill Tierney Postgame

Highlights


Top photo of Ethan Walker courtesy of Denver Athletics

2 thoughts on “Pioneers Remain Unbeaten in BIG EAST Behind Ethan Walker’s Record-Breaking Performance”

  1. DU is jelling before our eyes. Patient, experienced, mature, deep, healthy, unselfish, and skilled at all positions. The Pioneers now look like the top 5 team we’d hoped they be this season. 11 different DU scorers today, even with the Marquette goalie having a big day.

    Marquette was scrappy and disruptive for a while with defensive looks that confused DU into turnovers early, but the Pios stuck with it, executed the coaching staff’s adjustments and blew the game open in the second half.

    Well done.

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