Men’s lacrosse breezes through Faceoff Classic

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Hosting the annual Faceoff Classic, (1/1) the DU Pioneers bested their opponents by topping first-year program Cleveland State University 19-6 on Saturday, Feb. 25 and shutting out Canisius College 12-0 for the first time in Denver’s Division I program history on Sunday, Feb. 26.

Saturday’s victory utilized 14 different goal scorers, the most under Associate Head Coach Matt Brown.

2016 Tewaaraton Finalist and senior captain attackman Connor Cannizzaro (Cazenovia, New York) and freshman attackman Ethan Walker (Peterborough, Ontario) propelled Denver’s offense with five points apiece. Walker extended his hat trick streak to three, along with two assists, while Cannizzaro scored twice and drew two helpers.

Junior faceoff specialist Trevor Baptiste (Denville, New Jersey) was successful with 17-of-21 at the X.

Head Coach Bill Tierney was reunited with former assistant coach and son-in-law, now current Head Coach of Cleveland State, Dylan Sheridan.

“Nobody’s kidding anybody, there’s a lot of emotion in this game,” Tierney said. “Facing off is a unique science. With Trevor, the [Cleveland State] kid was quick. He wins a couple, scores on the faceoff, we take a stupid penalty, we go down for two minutes and now they’re feeling it.”

Denver and Cleveland State battled in the first quarter, reaching a 5-4 score. Cannizzaro and senior midfielder Max Planning (Alexandria, Virginia) scored DU’s last two goals of the first quarter, sparking an eight-goal run. The Pioneers outscored Cleveland State 6-0 in the second quarter, taking an 11-4 lead into the locker room.

Denver finished the second half outscoring Cleveland State 8-2. Junior attackman Connor Donahue (Groton, Massachusetts), senior defender and captain Christian Burgdorf (Westfield, New Jersey), junior Colton McCaffrey (Parker, Colorado), junior midfielder Grant Gravitt (Las Vegas, Nevada), sophomore midfielder David Funes (Seattle, Washington) and freshman midfielder Kyle Smith (New Canaan, Connecticut) all recorded their first goals of the season.

On Sunday, the Pioneers blanked Canisius. McCaffrey and Cannizzaro led with four points each. McCaffrey scored twice and dished out two assists, while Cannizzaro had one goal and drew three helpers.

Baptiste finished the afternoon with 11-for-14 faceoff wins and collected seven ground balls.

Starting sophomore goalie Alex Ready (Lancaster, Pennsylvania) made five saves before he was relieved by freshman Josh Matte (Issaquah, Washington) during the final minutes of the fourth quarter.

With the victory, Coach Tierney recorded his 100th win in only 128 games at DU, thus becoming the only coach in NCAA Division I history to reach 100 career wins in under 140 games at two different institutions.

“I’m blessed. I’m blessed to have been at Princeton and I’m blessed to be here at Denver. Hopefully there’s another hundred [wins]left in me,” Tierney said. “When you reach those kinds of milestones, it really makes you think of all the great kids that have played for you and contributed to that. It’s special. There are a lot of people that are a part of that, and that’s the best part of it.”

The Pioneers continue their six-game homestand and open the 2017 season by welcoming the reigning 2016 National Champions University of North Carolina on March 4. Faceoff is scheduled for 11:30 a.m.

“We know how they feel. You’re the defending national champs, everyone wants a piece of you and everybody wants to give you their best shot,” Tierney said. “They’re a great team. I know they’re going to come and they’re going to bring their best.”

Sasha is a second-year Journalism Studies major with minors in Business Analytics and Marketing. Sasha loves combining her passions of sports with writing and is a HUGE fan of data-driven narratives and visualizations. Despite being a Colorado native, Sasha aspires to live in New York City or Boston as soon as she can.

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