Denver claims No. 1 seed in the Big East through defensive strength

The University of Denver men’s lacrosse team claimed a 12-2 victory over Providence College on Saturday, April 22. The team drew upon the success of freshman Ethan Walker, who put up a total of eight points in a nothing short of an impressive performance. Yet, in the shadow of Walker’s headline, resides the unsung hero of the Pioneers game, its defense.

“Our defense played tremendous and [what] starts with a good offense is a great defense,” said Ethan Walker. “They went out there and held a team like Providence to two goals; I mean that’s phenomenal.”

“I felt like we’ve really been waiting for that, for that moment,” said faceoff specialist Trevor Baptiste. “Holding a team under 10 goals is always a plus, and holding them to two goals is even better.”

The Pioneers allowed the Friars to get off a total of 28 shots, with its defensive unit contesting nearly all of them. Goaltender Alex Ready made a total of nine saves, with only conceding two goals, making a case for his best performance yet.

“As I told them in the locker room they allowed Alex [Ready] to see the shots that he is very good at stopping,” said head coach Bill Tierney. “He got on, as we’ve all seen him sometimes, and when he gets on he’s focused like that, and when the defense is giving him the shots he wants, he’s good as anybody.”

The defensive midfielders and long poles did their job in serving difficult shots to the Friars attackers, yet the defensive team found another way to make it on to the official box score, generating seven caused turnovers: one by midfielder Quinn McKone, one by long stick midfielder Brett Greenlee, two by defenseman Jake Nolan and three by offensive star Connor Cannizzaro on the opposite side of the field.

The Pioneers smothered the Friars offense, not allowing a goal until 12:49 left in the third quarter. Though, after netting their first goal, Providence quickly found their way to the back of the net again just five minutes later. The Ocean State team seemed to have found their momentum, until the net minder out of Pennsylvania made two back-to-back saves, putting an end to Providences offensive outing.

“I think number one it’s really good for our teams psyche to know that Alex [Ready] can do that, and it’s really good for his own psyche to know that our defense backs him up, our team backs him up and our coaches back him up,” said Tierney. “It’s really cool to see him have a big moment like that when he’s needed.”

Through the Friars defeat, the Pioneers now own the title of the No. 1 seed heading into the Big East tournament. The Mile High City team will travel out to Milwaukee next week, to face Marquette University in their last regular season game.

“John Orsen works so hard to put together defensive game plans, and when they can show themselves that they can play like this as a full team, the future could be bright,” said Tierney. “The idea now is to string it together against a team who took the Big East Championship last year, and a team that we know very well and they know us very well, and its going to be a war.”

Feature Image: Tom McCaffrey/DU Men’s Lacrosse Facebook

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