#5 Pioneers Score 10 in Third Quarter to Cruise to 17-10 Victory Over #20 Villanova

Ethan Walker, Denver’s all-time points leader and 2nd-leading scorer in 2021, didn’t dress but it made no difference for a #5 Denver Pioneers (9-2, 7-0 BIG EAST) offense that scored 17 goals, 10 in the third quarter alone, against the #20 Villanova Wildcats (4-3, 4-3 BIG EAST). Jackson Morrill led the way with a hat trick while his former Yale teammate Lucas Cotler scored twice to account for half of Denver’s third-quarter offense on another perfect Colorado Saturday afternoon at Peter Barton Lacrosse Stadium. Denver added one more in the fourth to salt away the 17-10 victory and remain unbeaten in BIG EAST play.

Denver’s depth was always going to be one of their main assets this year. Adding Morrill, Cotler, and TD Ierlan from Yale and Zach Hutchko from Loyola, all from the transfer portal gave Denver the luxury of extremely talented players that afforded head coach Bill Tierney the luxury of throwing wave after wave of elite offensive talent at the opposition. Over the past few months, that depth has been on full display with the Pioneers scoring fewer than 16 goals just once since the 10-9 victory at Marquette in early March.

Between Morrill, Cotler, and star midfielder Jack Hannah, the Pioneers tallied three separate hat tricks on the day with JJ Sillstrop and Ted Sullivan each contributing multi-goal days of their own to round out DU’s offensive clinic. The offensive outburst also came on a day where all-world faceoff specialist TD Ierlan didn’t have his best day at the X, going just 8-for-14. Alec Stathakis fared a bit better than his teammate, going 10-for-16 as they combined to win barely 60% of the day’s faceoffs.

On defense, Jack Thompson once again put forth a stellar day making 12 saves on 21 shots, though the Wildcats’ first goal was a product of a lucky long shot, taking advantage of Denver’s early 10-man ride. But once again, the Pios’ defense in front of Thompson showed its elite potential, keeping Villanova’s attack at bay and allowing Denver to go on that 10-3 third-quarter run.

With the victory, the Pioneers improve to 2-2 against ranked opponents, the lone losses coming against Duke and North Carolina in early February. Villanova was only #20 but this rout still helps Denver’s resume as the stretch run of the regular season is well underway. The fact that Denver was able to put forth this kind of offensive performance without its main catalyst in Ethan Walker – he is expected to be back for next weekend’s trip to Washington, D.C. for the rematch with Georgetown – and a sub-par day at the X, by DU’s standards, only adds to the confidence that the Pioneers have been building since BIG EAST play started. Should the Pioneers get derailed at any point between now and the BIG EAST Championship next month, this victory (and hopefully another next weekend on the road) will certainly help solidify Denver’s resume. Plus, with Duke and North Carolina each falling against Notre Dame and Virginia, respectively, the Pioneers’ hold on the top-5 only got stronger today.

Bill Tierney Postgame


Top photo courtesy of Denver Athletics

3 thoughts on “#5 Pioneers Score 10 in Third Quarter to Cruise to 17-10 Victory Over #20 Villanova”

  1. Great third quarter by DU that completely blew open a very close game to that point, and that 10-goal Denver 3Q outburst was keyed by the Pios’ suddenly dominating the face-off x after Villanova had stymied Stathakis and Ierlan in the first half.

    DU really adjusted everything after a disjointed first half where face-off losses and turnovers kept Villanova too close for comfort. Nice to see Denver’s offense flourishing without Ethan Walker.

    Now it’s off to DC, where the Pioneers will need Walker’s offense and they will need a much better face-off performance to beat the #10 ranked Hoyas on their own field in Washington, D.C.

  2. That 1st half was a real heart stopper!
    Congratulations on a 10 goal 3rd qtr. and another meaningful win.

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