College lacrosse’s biggest western rivalry required overtime in five of the last seven meetings, yet the 2017 NCAA Quarterfinal matchup between the fifth-seeded DU Pioneers and the fourth-seeded University of Notre Dame Fighting Irish evolved into a contrastive outcome. The Pioneers demolished the Fighting Irish 16-4, advancing to Championship Weekend for the fifth time in the last seven seasons with their largest win in NCAA Tournament History.
Denver’s domination was forefronted by 2017 Tewaaraton Finalist and faceoff specialist Trevor Baptiste (Denville, New Jersey), who was successful with 21-of-22 draws. Baptiste also scored his 12th goal of the season and collected 13 ground balls.
While the Irish were the first to get on the board 3:11 into the first quarter, the Pioneers countered with a grueling eight-goal run to secure an 8-1 lead heading into intermission.
Denver didn’t let up momentum in the second half, as DU outscored the Irish 8-3 to punch their ticket to the NCAA Semifinals. The Fighting Irish’s Mikey Wynne, who had a hat trick, and senior Sergio Perkovic, who scored in the final six minutes, were Notre Dame’s lone scorers.
Sophomore attack Austin French (Danville, California) led Denver’s electric offense with four goals and one assist as the Pioneers finished the afternoon with 39 shots on goal. Freshman attack Ethan Walker (Peterborough, Ontario) added six points on three goals and three assists, and linemate senior captain Connor Cannizzaro (Cazenovia, New York) finished the afternoon with five points on three goals and two helpers. Senior midfielder Tyler Pace (Coquitlam, British Columbia) was prominent on the scoreboard with a hat trick.
While the Pioneers dominated the scoreboard, they relinquished 18 turnovers throughout the afternoon. Denver’s outstanding defensive play stifled Notre Dame’s usually dynamic offense, holding the Irish to 16 shots and denying the Irish from capitalizing on Denver’s sloppy play.
Sophomore goalie Alex Ready (Lancaster, Pennsylvania) made four saves on the eight shots he faced in his 56 minutes of action. Freshman Josh Matte (Issaquah, Washington) relieved Ready in net in the final minutes but did not face any shots.
Denver will face the top-seeded University of Maryland, who defeated the eighth-seeded University of Albany, SUNY 18-9 on May 21. Faceoff is scheduled for May 27 in Foxboro, Mass. at Gillette Stadium.