Trevor Baptiste against T.D. Ierlan was everything lacrosse fans wished for when the University of Denver battled Albany in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Men’s Lacrosse Championships Saturday afternoon. The two best faceoff specialists in the country split the draws at 15 apiece, but No. 2 Albany outlasted unseeded DU on its way to a 15-13 victory to advance to its first appearance in Championship Weekend.
Baptiste, DU’s senior and the all-time leader in faceoff wins in NCAA history, and Ierlan, Albany’s sophomore who is on pace to break Baptiste’s records, split the 30 draws as the battle of the two faceoff extraordinaires lived up to lofty expectations.
After surrendering the first three goals of the contest, DU went on a 5-1 run to take its first lead midway through the second quarter. The Great Danes responded with three goals of their own, included a last-second shot from freshman Tehoka Nanticoke, to take a two-goal advantage into the break.
Following a balanced third quarter, DU junior Colton Jackson netted two goals to bring the Pioneers within one goal, 12-11. That’s the closest that DU got as Albany scored the next three goals to secure a four-goal lead with 2:08 to play.
DU fought back late as Baptiste secured back-to-back faceoff victories leading to goals with 51 and 38 seconds remaining. Ierlan ousted Baptiste on the final draw of the game, though, and the Great Danes played keep away to advance to their first semifinal appearance.
Jackson led both sides in scoring with four goals, followed by teammate Joe Reid with three. Albany had a quartet of hat tricks, none more impactful than senior Kyle McClancy who scored the Great Danes’ final two goals in impressive fashion to put the proverbial icing on the cake.
Baptiste also scored one goal in his collegiate finale. Albany will advance to play No. 3 Yale in the semifinals next Saturday.