The 12th ranked Denver Pioneers (8-4, 3-1 Big East) men’s lacrosse team clinched a berth in the Big East Tournament on Senior Day, defeating Providence College (6-8, 2-2 Big East),14-8 before a sellout crowd of 2,187 at Barton Stadium on April 20.
“We had to keep shooting,” said DU coach Bill Tierney after the game today. “Everyone battled and we had a lot of guys score today…[Providence] is big, tough and extremely well-coached. We’re thrilled to get out of this one [with a win]…We [honored our seniors] one of the winningest senior classes in the country and they keep our winning culture and imparted that culture on the younger guys… We’re now playing for a [share of] a regular season championship, and we’ll have our hands full in Milwaukee [with Marquette] on Friday night.”
Denver used a 62% face-off advantage, a perfect 16-16 clearing game and 19 PC turnovers on the day to dominate possession. This possession advantage led to DU firing some 50 shots at PC goaltender Tate Boyce (32 of which were on cage), who made 18 saves to keep plucky Providence in the game at 8-5 into the fourth quarter. He also passed the 700 save mark in his Providence career.
At that point, the Pioneers’ depth wore down the Friars on this hot and sunny Saturday afternoon at altitude, as DU poured in six fourth quarter goals to seal the victory and ensure one or two more home games in May in the Big East Championships.
Denver was fired up and hot early in the game, going up 4-0 on the Friars in first eight minutes of the game. But Providence fought back to tie it 4-4 in the second quarter before Denver put away the Friars with a much better offensive output in the second half. Teddy Sullivan, who played sparingly in the first half, was a big difference -maker in the second half for DU, seeming to stabilize the jittery Pioneer offense with a nice alley dodge goal to send the Pioneers up 8-5, and then scored the proverbial dagger goal on a pretty feed from Austin French to make it a 12-7 margin in the fourth quarter, a goal from which Providence never really recovered.
Denver was led by Junior Ethan Walker, who had four goals on the day, including the first two of the game to set the tone for the Pioneers. Sophomore Jack Hanna chipped in with a 3-goal hat trick of his own for DU, and senior Colton Jackson put the exclamation point on the game with the final two goals to make the final score 14-8.
Freshman Cole French made his first goalie start of his DU career for the win, making 6 saves in the contest on 23 Providence shots.
Matt Grillo led the Friars with a pair of goals and an assist.
Denver next faces Marquette on Friday night, April 26 in Milwaukee, Wis., as the final weekend will determine the Big East Tournament seeding. Denver will play in the second Big East Semifinal on May 2 at 7 p.m. MT at Peter Barton Lacrosse Stadium, regardless of seeding.
Tickets for the Big East Tournament (May 2-4) at Barton Stadium are available at the DU ticket office.