Pioneers Venture into New Territory: NCAA Semifinals
HEMPSTEAD, N.Y.--The Denver University men's lacrosse team continued its historic season on Saturday by defeating Johns Hopkins, 14-9, advancing to the NCAA Semifinals for the first time in the program's history. The sixth-seeded Pioneers (15-2 overall) will square off against Virginia next Saturday (4 or 6:30 p.m.) at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Md.
Denver has won back-to-back NCAA tournament games for the first time after three previous unsuccessful attempts getting past the first round.
Game recap courtesy of Denver Athletics...
Fueled by three-goal performances from senior Todd Baxter (Eden Prairie, Minn.) and sophomore Cameron Flint (Georgetown, Ontario), the Pioneers surprised the Blue Jays in a battle of Top 10 teams by five goals in the second game of the Hofstra quarterfinals held at James M. Shuart Stadium.
"I can't express to you how proud I am of these guys because they have just done everything that we as coaches have asked of them and more," head coach Bill Tierney said. "Johns Hopkins is an outstanding team and they gave us everything they had. It was a great showing for the sport of lacrosse and I am just so proud that our team has the opportunity to experience it and make history."
Freshman Jeremy Noble (Orangeville, Ontario) led the way for the Pioneers with five points off three goals and two assists, while junior Mark Matthews (Oshawa, Ontario) finished with a goal and two assists to go along with Baxter's and Flint's three goal performances.
Baxter, who suffered a high angle sprain and partial MCL tear two weeks ago, and Flint scored two goals each during a six-goal run by the Pioneers during a 16:49 stretch during the first and second quarters, rallying after the Blue Jays (13-3) scored the game's first goal.
Johns Hopkins battled back in the second half, winning 12-of-15 face-offs after the break and shrinking DU's lead to one goal at 8-7 with 7:16 remaining in the third.
However, Baxter scored his third goal with 4:47 left in the third sparked another Pioneer run - this one five-straight goals that stretched DU's lead to 13-7 - before Baxter was removed for the rest of the game.
The Blue Jays attempted a comeback, scoring with 6:20 remaining, but Denver's defense clamped down and Noble buried a man-up goal into an empty net to seal the victory with 2:18 on the clock.
Chris Boland had two goals and four helpers for the Blue Jays, and Kyle Wharton added a hat trick.
The Pioneers' next game against the seventh-seeded Cavaliers will be broadcast on ESPN2 and ESPN3.com. The winner of the semifinal will advance to the national championship on Monday, May 30 at 1:30 p.m., which will be shown on ESPN and ESPN3.com.