Coming into Peter Barton Lacrosse Stadium with a five game win streak, Villanova University was hot. Yet, the University of Denver was well equipped, and prepared for the Big East heavy weight face off.
The game between the Wildcats and Pioneers featured Tewaaraton watch list players on both teams: Trevor Baptiste (Denver), Connor Cannizzaro (Denver), and Jake Froccaro (Villanova). Through this talent, the match developed into a series of offensive runs, put on by both teams, and embodied run-and-gun style that truly captures the attention of all in attendance.
“It was a little crazy, not to my liking, Matt Brown likes it like this, but I’m not sure that I do,” said Denver’s head coach Bill Tierney. “It was kind of what we expected, and even before the game we said this could be a 16-15 thing.”
To break it down, the Pioneers put together a series of three goals on four separate occasions: three unanswered to end the first quarter, three in the middle of the second, one to end the second followed by two to start the third quarter, and three to smother a run by Villanova to end the third. The fourth quarter embodied a different pattern of three, with the two Big East teams exchanging scores three times.
“It’s like basketball, you don’t like it when it’s happening but you know good teams are going to go on runs,” said Tierney. “The ball bounces a little funny; they win a few faceoffs that they won in that run…Jake Froccaro is a heck of an athlete and they’re going to get you.”
With both offenses answering and causing a constant swing in momentum, the game boils down to one major aspect: the battle at the face-off-X. Pioneers face off man Trevor Baptiste went 25-31 at center field, allowing the Denver’s offense to get those much needed offensive possessions.
“It was pretty hard, credit to Villanova,” said Baptiste. “They had a lot of faceoff guys, we kind of knew that coming in, but they threw a lot of different things at me.”
Though Baptiste is the one acting on the field, he credits his face off team and wing play with helping him make in game adjustments, and finding success at the cross.
“I think, really what we were focusing on was just being on the same page, and you know face offs are mayhem so it’s hard to choreograph every time,” said Baptiste. “I think communication is the best way to do it.”
The New Jersey native was dominant with only loosing six face offs the entire game. Baptiste also helped his team in another box score category, by netting three goals off of the draw, which served as a dagger towards the Wildcats momentum each time.
“Some times you get too cautious when the other team goes on a run and you sit back, and that allows them to continue,” said Tierney. “But overall against a great team like that, we’ll take a 16-11 win like that, that is for sure.”
Feature Image: University of Denver’s Men’s Lacrosse