It was #15 Denver (15-1, 11-0) over UConn (12-6, 7-4) for the BIG EAST Tournament Championship and NCAA autobid. The Pioneers, winners of the BIG EAST regular-season title, used streaky goal scoring and strong defense to cap their conference title win at Cooper Field in Washington, D.C. The BIG EAST Tournament title win is Denver’s first after three consecutive runner-up finishes.
The first 15 minutes were tight as the Pioneers scored three straight goals capped by a fast-break goal by All-BIG EAST defensive Player of the Year, Molly Little, to take a 5-3 edge over the Huskies with 10:50 remaining in the first half. Then, the Pioneers caught fire in the final six minutes with three goals in a two-minute span. Eliza Radochonski, Bea Behrins and Caroline Wiseman did the scoring damage to extend the lead, 8-4, with four minutes remaining. Sydney Watson netted a goal for the Huskies with 41 seconds remaining to close the half, 8-5.
— Denver Women’s Lacrosse (@DU_WLAX) May 8, 2021
Denver trailed on draw controls 9-5 at half, an Achilles heel for a DU team strong at nearly every other facet of the game. An aggressive Denver side was called for 21 fouls to 8 for UConn.
Denver continued to lose draw controls to start the second half as UConn narrowed Denver’s advantage to one, 8-7. But Denver’s smothering defense took over as they created turnover after turnover. After a 13-minute scoring drought, Makenzie Wallevand scored for DU after several big defensive stops by the Pioneers, 9-7. A minute later, Hannah Liddy broke from behind the cage and put a low shot into the goal, 10-7. UConn goalie Landyn White kept the Huskies in the game as Denver built a two-to-one shot advantage. After an 11-minute scoring drought by both teams, DU’s Kayla DeRose dunked the ball into the net on a free play to go up 11-7. Then, five minutes later DeRose buried another shot in the 4-goal Denver scoring run, 12-7. DU’s Julia Gilbert finished off the Huskies in Denver’s 5-goal run with 3:29 remaining, 13-7.
It was all about timely runs by Denver and smothering defense that contributed to the BIG EAST Championship. UConn committed 20 turnovers during the game to only 9 for Denver. Denver improved on draw controls in the second half, trailing 13-9 for the game.
The first-round NCAA Women’s Lacrosse Tournament will begin Friday, May 14th. The tournament selection show will be held at 7 p.m. on Sunday, May 9 | ESPNU.