Tourney Time for DU Lacrosse
Pioneers host first round game at Peter Barton Lacrosse Stadium
The University of Denver men’s lacrosse team is hoping to take a page from the hockey team. DU hockey lost in the quarterfinal round of its conference tournament before winning the rest of its games on the way to a national championship. Two weeks ago, the DU lacrosse team lost its quarterfinal game in the Big East tournament; now the Pioneers prepare for the start of the NCAA tournament.
“We didn’t do good enough, and other teams want to play you and they want to play you well,” says coach Bill Tierney of his team’s performance in the Big East tournament. “If we are going to have a letdown, hopefully we will learn from our hockey team and we are going to have a letdown in the conference tournament and now we can get off on a run here.”
That run needs to start Saturday at Peter Barton Lacrosse Stadium. DU hosts Air Force at 3 p.m. in the first round of the NCAA tournament. The game will be broadcast live on ESPNU. The Pioneers defeated the Falcons on Feb. 11 by a final score of 14-6. Denver has won its last nine contests against Air Force.
“We know them and they play us really tough every time,” senior Connor Cannizzaro, a 2017 Tewaaraton nominee for best player in college lacrosse, says of Air Force. “They are going to try and throw some different stuff at us, as are we to them, so it should be a good game.”
The Pioneers received the fifth seed in the tournament of 17 teams, earning them a home game this weekend. The team knows that’s a big advantage in the first round.
“Having another chance to play at Peter Barton Stadium is huge,” says junior Trevor Baptiste, also a 2017 Tewaaraton nominee. “You only get so many chances to play at home, so it’s great to get another opportunity — and it’s even better that it’s in the playoffs.”
“We want these guys here to understand what a great accomplishment it is to be one of eight teams out of 70 that are playing at home this a weekend with a chance to go to the quarterfinals and final four,” says coach Tierney.
The winner of the Denver and Air Force matchup will take on the winner of fourth-seeded Notre Dame and Marquette at Hofstra on May 20. DU defeated both Notre Dame and Marquette earlier this season. However, the Pioneers’ loss in the Big East quarterfinals came at the hands of Marquette. The team knows it must learn from its mistakes to succeed in the tournament.
“This is really what we play for. Everyone looks toward May and the playoffs and the NCAA Tournament,” Cannizzaro says. “Us putting ourselves in this position where we are in the tournament and have a home game, it’s a special thing and we look to really compete and go far in the tournament and come home with a national championship.”