Pioneers Lead Wire to Wire, Dispatch Providence 14-5 to Advance to BIG EAST Championship

The top-seed Denver Pioneers opened the first BIG EAST semifinal of the day with a 7-0 run over the first 18 minutes of the game and never trailed as they dominated the fourth-seeded host Providence Friars 14-5. Jackson Morrill and Ethan Walker led the way for the Pios with 7 points each – Morrill scored three times while Walker scored four. With the victory, the Pioneers advance to another BIG EAST championship game and will face the winner of the second BIG EAST semifinal of the day between #2-seed Georgetown and #3-seed Villanova.

While seven different Pioneers scored and nine different Pioneers tallied a point, it ended up being the Walker-Morrill Show at Anderson Field in Providence, the one in Rhode Island. Walker and Morrill combined for 14 points and seven goals between the two of them to lead the Pioneers past the Friars. They contributed four of the Pioneers’ goals on the game-opening 7-0 run and helped the Pioneers step on the Friars’ throats over the remaining two and a half quarters.

Sophomore goalie Jack Thompson, named to the BIG EAST Second Team yesterday, also continued his stellar season to keep Providence from mounting any kind of comeback, stopping 11 of the 15 shots on goal that he saw, an impressive .733 S%. Thompson was also helped by his defense which disrupted Providence’s attack and forced 14 Friar turnovers (Denver had 10 of their own).

It was a surgical, business-like performance for the Pioneers who likely have clinched an at-large berth, at the very least, in the NCAA Tournament, regardless of what happens in the BIG EAST championship on Saturday. At no point did it feel like Providence was even in the game, much less able to pull off the upset. Denver lost the opening faceoff, forced a turnover, and never looked back. It was an encouraging game for the Pios who haven’t won a conference title since 2015 en route to their first and only national title.

Regardless of who they play on Saturday afternoon, Villanova or Georgetown, Denver will have their hands full. Against both Georgetown and Villanova last month, the Pioneers went to overtime at 10-10, losing to the Hoyas 11-10 and beating the Wildcats 11-10. Since then, Georgetown beat Providence 14-5 before losing to Loyola 11-9 in nonconference play. Villanova, however, routed then-#5 Lehigh 16-8 just three days after their overtime loss to Denver.

The Pioneers are on a mission this postseason and it showed this afternoon against Providence. If they can recreate today’s performance on Saturday, the Pioneers will return to the NCAA Tournament in a great position to continue on that road that ends holding a trophy East Hartford, CT on Memorial Day.


Top photo courtesy of Denver Athletics

3 thoughts on “Pioneers Lead Wire to Wire, Dispatch Providence 14-5 to Advance to BIG EAST Championship”

  1. Pios ate the semifinal appetizer as expected and are now onto their main course on Saturday.

    You can be sure that either Villanova or Georgetown are going to be a snarly, truculent and ornery obstacle for Denver. Both are going to try and sever the service line between Morrill and Walker, so secondary scoring will be the difference-maker if the Pios expect to advance to a Big East Crown and the NCAA auto-bid that comes with it.

    Now, the Pios are basically in the dance, and if DU can win on Saturday, a top-8 seed and hosting the first round becomes a very strong conversation point for the committee.
    Bring it on!

  2. Dunker believes that DU will be a #6 seed should we defeat the Hoyaโ€™s on Saturday. Rutgers sucked tonight and may not make the tournament.

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