Rain was falling in Milwaukee and the women’s lacrosse game was moved to Valley Fields Dome Saturday morning as #3 Denver (17-0, 6-0) battled Marquette (15-2, 5-1) for the BIG EAST title. Trademark defensive stands in the first and fourth quarters, shutting out the Golden Eagles and forcing 27 turnovers, sealed the Denver win and regular season title.
Denver employed their signature shutdown zone defense in the first period, holding the Golden Eagles to no goals and building a 3-0 lead. Julia Gilbert got Denver on the board early in the first quarter. Five minutes later, Lauren Black scored for the Pioneers. A Marquette own goal with 21 seconds left in the first quarter, gave Denver a 3-0 lead. Despite going 0-4 on draw controls, Denver made the best of their five shots on goal.
Marquette doubled up Denver in the second quarter, 4-2. A goal by Kayla DeRose put Denver up 5-1 with eleven minutes remaining but the Golden Eagles came back with three goals, shutting down the Denver offense until halftime. The teams went into the break with Denver leading 5-4. Denver had the advantage shots-on-goal, 14-13, but Marquette chipped away at the Pioneer lead.
Denver’s bread and butter this season has been scoring in bunches. The Pioneers opened the third period with a three-goal run with Kipp Sloane, Lauren Black (free position) and Ellie Curry solving goaltender Brynna Nixon for an 8-4 Denver lead. With 3:26 remaining in the third period, Shea Garcia scored for MU with 3:00 minutes left to stop the bleeding and draw within three, 8-5.
A minute and a half into the final quarter, Ellie Curry gave Denver some breathing room with a goal, 9-5. From there, the Denver defense stepped up big time, as Julia Gilbert added an insurance goal with six minutes remaining, doubling up the Golden Eagles 10-5. A man-up Lauren Black goal with 2:00 minutes left was the icing on the cake, 11-5. Caroline Colimore completed the four-goal Denver scoring spree with a minute remaining. The Golden Eagles were held scoreless for the last eighteen minutes of the game.
Next up for Denver is a trip to Storrs Connecticut as the #1 seed for the BIG EAST Tournament next weekend.